Warmer reception for R’Dam budget [correction]

— There was a sense of déjà vu recently at Rotterdam Town Hall, when three Rotterdam Town Board members introduced amendments to the 2012 tentative budget. But unlike last year, the proposals came before the eleventh hour.

During the board’s meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 26, council members Nicola DiLeva, Matthew Martin and Wayne Calder presented amendments to undo cuts from Supervisor Frank Del Gallo’s tentative budget before voting on the preliminary budget.

The packed-in audience applauded the amendments restoring 13 positions in Del Gallo’s budget previously proposed to be eliminated through layoffs, and another three through attrition. The new spending plan came in slightly below Del Gallo’s $20.3 million proposed budget, but it will use $366,143.33 in reallocated funds from the special district fund balance to cover administrative costs for those districts in the general fund.

“We did a systematic change that will continue into the future,” DiLeva said about the fund reallocations. “All property tax payers in the Town of Rotterdam have been subsidizing the cost of administering the special districts, while these same tax districts have accumulated well over$2 million in surplus funds in designated fund balance.”

DiLeva said the board members checked with surrounding towns, the City of Schenectady and the county, which all follow the town’s newly proposed process for special district administrative costs.

The salaries paid to all elected town officials cut in Del Gallo’s budget, including the board members’ $10,000 stipend and supervisor’s $13,000 stipend, were restored. Del Gallo previously said board members don’t need to be paid. The total for all board member compensation is $41,500.

DiLeva said board members were never given a reason for the specific cuts on budget lines, which some thought “gutted” the Parks and Recreation Department and weakened services offered at the senior center. Also, the Police Department’s budget was cut by over $200,000, which would have meant the elimination of two detective positions.

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