Final public hearings on budget Thursday
While the meetings are designed to provide residents with a chance to speak their mind regarding both the budget and the council’s changes, Mayor Harry Tutunjian believed that most individuals will not have had enough time to understand the situation beforehand.
In a Tuesday meeting, the council planned to cut more than $426,000 from Tutunjian’s proposed $63.7 million budget by cutting overtime costs and consultant fees, eliminating the positions of employees expected to retire, and eliminating an employee of Tutunjian’s office while adding a position to their own budget.
Tutunjian’s budget would carry a tax increase of 4.25 on its own without the changes.
“They (residents) need to be included in these discussions,” said Tutunjian.
“The council is delusional if they think that the city is overstaffed and that our budget has room for cutting in it,” he continued. “Adopting budgets that are cut this deeply will put us back in the dark ages.”
Council members believed that making the cuts would reduce the burden on city taxpayers while leaving revenue sources and city services intact.
City Comptroller Deborah Witkowski warned the council during their meeting that the city could be forced to add an additional $1 million expense to the budget if the state Legislature does not pass a bill allowing municipalities to spread out increased pension costs over several years.
That alone could raise the tax increase to 7 or 8 percent, said Tutunjian, who is expected to veto the elimination of the positions of spokesman Jeff Pirro and Department of Public Works Commissioner Bob Mirch, who is retiring, if they are included in the budget the council ultimately adopts by Dec. 1.
While the council can override the mayor’s veto, Tutunjian said he would take the council to court once again on the issue of usurping his powers if he had to.
The public hearings will be held in the City Council chambers at City Hall on the capital budget at and on the general fund budget at