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Discretionary line discussed at budget review

The word “discretionary” was a topic of discussion at the budget review meeting in the city of Dunkirk.

In the proposed 2021 spending plan, there is $5,000 in the discretionary fund line for the mayor to use when he deems fit. The fund however has caused some residents to question its necessity in light of a tight budgeted year due to COVID-19.

Mayor Wilfred Rosas explained more deeply how that fund is used to benefit the city.

“This week we had a potential investor, this was a big corporation, they flew a guy in and we met with him, we want to take the guy to lunch and make him feel good about investing money in our city,” Rosas said. “So these are the types of things that that line is for. We could take some out if you want to, but if you take it out and cut some of the things that we normally do, it may prohibit me from being able to lure somebody in.”

“Is there any way that that money for stuff like that where you’re promoting Dunkirk could go to promotions instead of discretionary?” First Ward Councilman Don Williams asked. “Because I get asked questions like ‘what’s a discretionary fund?'”

Second Ward Councilman Marty Bamonto and Fiscal Affair Officer Marsha Beach shared that that line also funds things such as Christmas greetings, Small Business Saturday and Senior Sweep.

“I’m getting asked, people are saying if it’s a tight budget why are we doing so much in discretionary,” Williams noted. “If it’s promotion and we’re promoting the city let’s put some of it there and use that line.”

Rosas went on to explain that discretionary means exactly that, it’s at the mayor’s discretion.

“Sometimes I’ll hold department heads and make them work through a lunch, so if I do that I’ll buy them a lunch,” Rosas shared. “Some of that stuff does not fit the promotion line.”

Williams stated that he doesn’t wish to cut the line completely, but to lower it to stave off confusion from citizens asking questions.

“If we put more under promotions where you could still do what you need to do for the discretionary, but then we have money in promotion that you need to promote the city,” Williams offered. “You’d still have the money available. I think people that are still questioning discretionary would see that that line went down and then also see that you’re promoting the city and that goes up. If we put half of it in promotions and you’re promoting the city with that, you can still do what you need to do.”

Rosas’ concern was when the auditors show up as the promotions line should be strictly used for promotion of the city and could cause issues later due to how the funds are outlined.

“The discretionary fund is basically what the chief executive officer in the city would use to do things at his discretion,” Rosas said. “The promotional line is to promote the city. If you move money into the promotions those funds should only be used for promotion and the auditors will catch that when they come.”

After discussing it the council chose to leave the fund line alone.

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