Done early and done right.
That was the word Tuesday as Common Council adopted a budget for 2013 after making just a few changes to Mayor Anthony J. Dolce's original proposal. The mayor and council members each took their turn commenting on the budget and process, and thanking all involved, during the meeting.
Dolce started things off during his report time.
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
Common Council members Michael Michalski, William J. Rivera, Adelino Gonzalez and Stacy Szukala look on as Mayor Anthony J. Dolce talks about the 2013 budget during Tuesday’s council meeting.
"A lot of time went into this, a lot of effort went into this, but I'd also like to caution that by no means would I say are we completely satisfied with the final budget," he began. "We understand the additional burdens through a tax increase, water rate increase, that it places on our residents, on our industry. We understand that.
"We continue to work to implement cost-cutting measures and to make government more efficient. That's what we're here to do and that's what we'll continue to do."
Dolce added that budgets are always a work in progress with changes made as necessary.
First Ward Councilman Michael Michalski called Dolce's first budget realistic and talked about water rate increases.
"The city is going to be incurring an expense for probably the next 25 years, a fixed expense," he stated. "The best way to offset a fixed expense is with fixed revenues, and that's pretty much what that water fund increase does."
Second Ward Councilman William J. Rivera commended Dolce and city officials, along with council, for being prompt with the budget.
"The 2013 budget was not as painful of a process that I thought that it would be. ... The mayor was able to close a $750,000 gap," he stated. "Council did some adjusting of its own."
Rivera said his property taxes would be going up $2 per month and his water rate was going up $4.
"We now will have a budget in place, keeping in mind 2014 may not be so easy," he added. "I'm making sure that I call out to Mayor Dolce and all the city officials to make sure we stick to the budget we put into place."
Third Ward Councilman Adelino Gonzalez said the process was easy but intense.
"Taxes did go up a little bit, the water rate did go up, but not as much as we thought it was going to," he said. "We can't guarantee that for the years to come."
Gonzalez said it was the first time all departments were brought in to go over their budgets.
"We took out as much as we could ... we would have liked to take out more but you can't do it," he stated. "With the next budget we'll be a little more intense."
Fourth Ward Councilwoman Stacy Szukala said some members would have been more aggressive.
"There were many sections that we got to that could have changed tremendously, but when we put five people in charge we go with the majority of the five," she explained. "So that is the budget we've come up with and whether it's likeable or not, it is what it is."
Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak said there will be a public hearing on the budget Nov. 27 at 11 a.m. and the public is invited to come and speak.
"If you have any questions please forward them in writing prior to that time," she added.
Kiyak then read a prepared statement from council on the budget process that reiterated many of the points already made by her fellow council members.
The budget can be looked at in the city clerk's office and online at dunkirktoday.com
After the meeting Dolce, who served on council for some eight years before being elected mayor, was asked about being on the front end of the process for the first time. He said he spent a lot more time on this budget.
"It also gave me an advantage being here on a day-to-day basis. ... I got to see where money can be saved on the day-to-day stuff," he added. "I also used this year as a learning process to see what can we do more long term."
With the biggest part of the budget related to the cost of employees, Dolce was asked if any of the three unions with contracts that have expired are close to completing new contracts with the city.
"We're hoping as soon as possible," he replied. "Two of them are going very well and we hope to have more on them soon. ... I'd love to have them done by the end of the year."
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