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R’dam OKs budget in split vote

Fund reallocations deemed legal by town attorney

— After heated debate between Town Board members over next year’s budget, the Town of Rotterdam has adopted a plan with no layoffs and weighing in at $21 million.

Council members Nicola DiLeva, Wayne Calder and Matthew Martin voted in support of adopting the 2012 budget on Wednesday, Nov. 9, which included their amendments to Supervisor Frank DelGallo’s 2012 Tentative Budget. DelGallo and Deputy Supervisor Robert Godlewski cast the two dissenting votes, citing fiscal irresponsibility of fund reallocations in the budget.

The town’s general and highway funds aren’t too different from DelGallo’s original plan, with the adopted budget about $1,600 less. The main differences are in amendments restoring 13 positions slated for layoffs in Del Gallo’s budget.

The estimated town tax rate for residents in 2012, which includes the general and highway funds, is estimated to increase by 3.6 percent. For commercial property owners the estimated tax rate increase is just under 6 percent.

The budget uses $800,000 from the general fund balance. Also, almost $366,150 is reallocated from the special district fund balance to cover administrative costs for those districts in the general fund.

Godlewski previously had questioned the legality of the fund reallocations, asking if municipal law permits such a transfer.

Town Attorney David Devaprasad, in an email to board members, said New York State Town Law section 202-a(7) “specifically authorizes such transfers.” DiLeva provided the email to The Spotlight. Also included in the email was an opinion from the state Comptroller’s Office supporting the reallocation.

Calder said he contacted the state Association of Towns and talked to its attorneys, who were also “comfortable” with the town’s reallocated fund balance amendments.

Godlewski also said he thought the budget wasn’t a responsible spending plan.

“I will be voting no, because I believe it is not a fiscally responsible budget,” Godlewski said. “I have looked at enough budgets over the last 12 years in one capacity or another and I’m not comfortable with this budget.”

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