By GIB SNYDER
OBSERVER City Editor
The Dunkirk Common Council has finished its review of Mayor Anthony J. Dolce's 2013 budget proposal. Council has proposed a total of 24 changes to the nearly $22 million spending plan - and the revenue plan to fund it.
City Mayor Anthony J. Dolce accepts the changes made.
Council increased the general fund revenues, raising Dolce's total of $15,059,313 by $33,400. Council proposed taking another $23,400 from the tax stabilization fund, which was already being tapped for $60,515. Council also added another $5,000 each in expected revenue to the emergency medical receipts -ambulance billing - as well as parking fines and tickets lines.
Major changes in spending lines included the addition of $25,000 for police department equipment, $20,000 for contracted services in the fiscal affairs office and $10,000 in additional overtime for the fire department. The biggest decrease came in the streets department administration line, which was reduced by $13,750 from Dolce's figure of $74,800, with 12 lines taking cuts from $180 to $2,760.
Dolce said there were no vetoes planned for any of the changes and his proposed tax hike of 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation will not change.
"There was a couple that we originally had disputes over or differences, and we worked through those and arrived at the numbers you see," he explained. "Contingencies are reduced by $364, that's it. Everything else, the decreases were moved into the areas that needed to be increased and then those other items, the revenue sources, made up the difference."
Slice into streets
Dolce said council's cut in the personnel services line for Streets Department Supervisor Michael Porpiglia was one he disagreed with. Council did add $3,000 to the overtime line covering the position.
"We kicked around some ideas where I'm pretty sure we're going to need more than $3,000 here, but I know they had four solid votes as far as this is the amount we want," Dolce explained. "So going through the process of vetoing it and having them override it, I said OK it will stay, but I can assure you we will likely go over that amount."
Dolce was asked if the cut would leave less in the line than Porpiglia, a member of the city's management union, was scheduled to earn.
"It's not cutting his salary, it's cutting the overtime portion of it," he said. "I know part of their goal, too, was to have a separate line for the overtime. That was the logic as far as cutting the $3,000 back and then putting it into a separate line."
Dolce said the $20,000 addition to the fiscal affairs office for contracted services was to contract for an audit of all city equipment - something which is long overdue.
"It's been, I believe, 13 years now since we had it last done. It's time," he said.
Council also cut $3,280 from four Cable TV Advisory Board lines while adding $500 to the board's rent/lease line.
"There is a lot of debate, a lot of concern, as to the ability of the station going forward. I think the majority of council wanted to see if they would, could, improve programming over the next year, so they cut out some of the non-essentials and kept the one piece of equipment they have been waiting for that would assist with the programming," Dolce explained. "There is a budget of $5,000 for a piece of equipment that would allow them to program a week's worth of programming at a time, at all hours of the day.
"To me it would be a tremendous asset in terms of programming. So that piece of equipment did stay. That will be bought next year. If that's utilized I think it would alleviate a lot of concerns, as well as having the council meetings regularly broadcast.
"It went smooth overall, I was there for most of it. I wasn't going to talk unless called upon and they needed me too."
The Dunkirk Housing Authority's board of directors stipend fund is eliminated altogether from the city budget, saving city taxpayers $2,760.
"According to the research done by the city attorney, he's been in discussion with the attorney for the housing authority for months, and neither party has found any documentation that requires the city to continue paying it," Dolce explained. "So council recommended that money be cut. If the documentation is found we will reinstate the money."
A senior citizens services personnel line was increased $8,000, though Dolce said it was a bookeeping cleanup.
"We took one of our secretaries and put her over there two mornings a week to assist with all the things going on at the Senior Center," he explained. "There's no additional money being expended. When you go to the Recreation Department you'll see a decrease and that is reflected in an increase in the senior line."
Dolce said it was a matter of just charging which department is getting the work done.
"Kevin Mikula worked hand in hand with Tony Gugino because the DPW guys are all over the place. They worked hard to get that in order," he explained.
History over library
One staple of city life, the Dunkirk Free Library, took a cut of $15,000 in the 2013 budget, making for a total reduction in its funding from the city of $36,500 since 2011. Dolce was asked about the reaction to the cut.
"I met with (Library Director Jan Dekoff) and explained where we were and the situation. I told her that with such a huge budget gap everything was looked at and unfortunately, the library was one of those places we had to cut," he replied. "It definitely was not an easy decision."
The Dunkirk Lighthouse and the Historical Society Museum, two of the city's "culturals," received a total increase of $5,250. Dolce said the two were at a tough point, while the library had more room to cut from.
"All I'm looking to do is help them keep the lights on and heat the place. They've already cut back hours substantially, they're already in that crisis mode," he explained. "I felt that if there was a little room to add a few bucks let's do it. Let's do our part to help keep them going."
Council is set to approve the budget and resolutions accompanying it at its meeting Tuesday.
Send comments on this story to email@example.com