Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Notes on the Proposed Budget... Happy Thanksgiving... How About Some Lights...

[Photo (by NS) of the Crowd at the Independence Day (Roundout Waterfront) Celebration]

Times are tough and Budgets are being belabored in households, committee rooms and courthouses throughout the land - leaving many of us a-tumble in a variety of ways - trying to figure out how to keep home, the Holidays, the community, our city, our state and our country afloat.

I promised some notes from the last Finance and Economic Development Committee Meeting (with a focus on the Mayor's 2010 Proposed Budget) that I attended - and I'm here to (as best I can, from an unofficial perspective) deliver.

The "Daily Freeman" covered some of this, but of course; and the "Kingston Times" surely will, as well --- but sometimes a few gems and/or passions get left out [This is surely true of my reports, as well...] of these "official" reports --- and sometimes [since we don't get to see any official "minutes" from these meetings] --- another perspective (my opinion certainly creeps in here and there, so take this as an layman's editorial) is good to have.


At the Monday night (11/23/09) Finance and Economic Development [focus on the Mayor's proposed 2010 Budget] Committee Meeting [I believe there has been another one since] Kingston City Aldermen [most were present] and Union Reps pretty much had the "floor".

It sounded, to me, like the Kingston Police Benevolent Association (PBA) Rep (and/or associates) had met with Mayor Sottile and City Comptroller John Tuey in order to work towards some possible agreements and / or concessions [This PBA Rep was professional and respectful in his (remaining firmly set against any layoffs) presentation at the Committee Meeting - but nothing had been voted on by the Union membership yet] --- and this situation "might have" [?????] deteriorated since.

The Fire Department was also represented - but I'm less clear on this issue [I believe it was Mr. Tiano that mainly spoke on this topic] than the others --- a situation that is complicated by the fact that the City and the Fire Department apparently have a case in the Courts [having to do with the Mayor's retirement incentive program and disagreements/problems that have arisen around "same"] now. [As an aside, it appears as if the KPD and the KFD are looking at ways that they might be able to utilize a combined (no attached figures were available yet) dispatch center.]

The CSEA Union Rep that took the floor at the Committee meeting seemed pretty rigid (in my perspective) about the possibility of the CSEA entertaining any concessions [He stated that he "had nothing to bring to the table..."] - and it sounded to me [I admittedly missed some of the intricacies here] as if the Council was to get back to them (the CSEA) about some issues by (a tenative date?) 12/10/09.

As far as "juicier" stuff (lol) --- Alderman Shirley Whitlock [Ward 4] asked the CSEA Rep how he could "live with" himself. To which he responded (probably not exact, but close...): "You spent all summer long arguing over a streetlight...!"

After which [Alderman Whitlock was very upset (and voiced this) on behalf of Kingston Citizens that are not perhaps as privleged as some of the others...] the CSEA Union Rep stated (in a roundabout way) that he was not without empathy - that he had been through his own tough personal, professional and economic situations - but that (in synopsis) "it is what it is."

[Alderman Whitlock also had words with someone from the sidelines [who started the discussion...] that challenged her [Ms Whitlock] to give up her pay. Alderman Whitlock responded (in synopsis) that if anyone wanted her measley eight thousand dollars (The Aldermen are not paid enough for what they do, in my opinion!) they could have it...]

Committee Chair / Alderman Landi reminded everyone that the City of Kingston payroll is floating on a 2.5 Million Dollar bond [I take it this is similar to borrowed money (????? / Please correct me if I am wrong!)] at the moment - that time is of the essense - and that a Chapter 9 bankruptcy might [if the budgetary concerns cannot be worked out to everyone's satisfaction) be in the offing...

Alderman Landi also noted (synopsis) that a "rescue" by the state wasn't looking too likely, due to the financial condition of the state itself [See the Governor Paterson video below for more on this...].

Alderman Landi had done some research on the Chapter 9 Bankruptcy topic - and had handouts for the rest of the Aldermen --- but Alderman DiBella [Ward 5] refused her copy - stating that (synopsis) the idea of the City of Kingston filing for a Chapter 9 Bankruptcy was "shameful" - and that she wanted to proceed with a focus on potential "solutions".

Much more was said; there were some "heated" moments. But it was good (in my opinion) to see both Alderman Whitlock and Alderman DiBella (this does not signify my agreement or disagreement with anything that was said) take a vocal stand.

A potential meeting - to be held over Thanksgiving weekend was discussed [?????] - but since the Common Council President - Alderman-at-Large James Noble Jr. - was not present; apparently this could not be (at the meeting) put in place. [Any updates on this?]

Other upcoming meetings on the proposed budget [I will try (What is up with the City of Kingston Municipal Calender?) to stay up to date on any changes [due to the Holidays] are noted in the sidebar >>>>>


All of that said, I want to state here that I can't always catch names - whether this be due to a hearing problem - my anxiety problem - or whatever --- and I apologize for that. I'm on a "learning curve" (self-imposed) so-to-speak - so please [I turn in my ideas to the Committee Chair, and encourage others to do the same...] bear with me.


Enjoy your Holidays!


BTW, if you aren't using those Holiday lights in the attic or cellar anymore (I find decorating to get tougher as I get older...) - why not consider checking them out for safety (or have someone else do so) and donating them to any businesses on Broadway [or homes] that would like to participate in a collective colorful boost?


Time to make the salad!


Addendum: As always, if any errors or noted, please let me know and the appropriate corrections will be made. Also - please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions!

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