Binghamton City Council Work Session Report – 3.25.24

This is a summary of legislation discussed at the Binghamton City Council Work Session on March 25th, 2024. These Requests for Legislation would be voted on at the City Council Business Meeting on April 10th.

There is now a different Republican on the city council.




RL24-64 A Resolution to adopt an ethics reform package (Submitted by Councilmembers Dundon and Hotchkiss)

  • Summary: Package of bills establishing:

1) A financial disclosure policy.

2) An ethical disclosure process.

3. A five year strategic planning process.

4) Employee support services.

5) An integrated appointment process (needs a referendum).

6) Financial accountability. 

7) A board of ethics.

  • Hotchkiss and Dundon discussed that the ethics/disclosure changes are based on how Broome County operates and will be part of a long process of working with corporation counsel (a republican Kraham appointee and former judge whom I would expect to be obstructionist) to get them implemented. They state that there will have to be referendums on items related to the mayor and any amendments to the city charter. Hotchkiss said he pitched a joint service agreement to the county but was turned down. Proposed ethics board will be five individuals: Chairperson of the Rules & Special Studies Committee, Corporation Counsel, and three appointments by the mayor who must be approved by the city council. 
  • My Take: I would encourage everyone to read the ethics legislation. It’s pretty basic but feels like a massive sea change and a step into the 21st century given the complacency of city government and the alleged profiteering of the previous mayor. 

RL24-55 An Ordinance to amend the 2024 budget to allocate ARPA funds to support the Southern Door Community Land Trust (Submitted by SDCLT Executive Director Hajra Aziz) 

  • Summary: The SDCLT is a non-profit organization that owns a six-unit building (two 4-bedrooms, two 3-bedrooms, and two 2-bedrooms) at 6 Florence Street. They’ve already gutted it and found alternative housing for tenants. They are asking for $1.1 million in ARPA money from the city to rehab the building. The rehab would be completed by the end of the year with displaced tenants given first right of return. Rents would be held at these rates for thirty years: $750/mo for a 4 bedroom, $650/mo for a 3-bedroom, and $550/mo for a 2-bedroom.
  • My Take: Here’s a Community Land Trust explainer. I like the CLT model. They come in many different forms, but basically a CLT takes the profit motive out of housing and has a board made up of residents, community members, and housing experts. It’s a holistic approach to housing where you establish permanent affordability, which creates stability, which can then lead to stronger neighborhoods over time. It also has a really interesting history that goes back to the Civil Rights Movement and Israeli Kibbutzim.

RL24-63 An Ordinance to amend the 2024 budget to allocate ARPA funds to provide funding for DAR Development (Submitted by Dominique Rice, Managing Partner of DAR Development)

  • Summary: DAR is a for-profit developer looking to rehab 18 Cary St, which has four units: three 1-bedroom and one 3-bedroom. Rice is asking for $434,000 in ARPA money. Rice says the 1-bedrooms will be rented for $401/month and they will accept Section 8 vouchers for the 3-bedroom. The building had two separate fires and was built in 1850.
  • My Take: I’m less excited about for-profit development but understand there is a housing crisis and not every property can be under a CLT. Hopefully the city council can make this money conditional on rent staying affordable long-term.

RL24-58 An Ordinance to amend the 2024 budget for HUD Admin & Housing to add CDBG funded Housing & Community Development Specialist position. Expedited. (Submitted by Juliet Berling, Director of Planning Commission)

  • Summary: A new position created for the Planning Department to “facilitate various community development initiatives related to housing and homelessness prevention”. Berling specifically stated that this position would help projects like the SDCLT.

RL24-57 An Ordinance to amend the 2024 Fire budget to pay fire mechanic from Fire budget moving from CSEA Union to Fire Union effective 1/1/2024 with retroactive salary increase. (Submitted by Kent Drake-Dreese, Personnel Director)

  • Summary: Employee was placed in the wrong union. This is simply correcting that error.

RL24-62 A Resolution to accept NYS Resolution to re-open Section 384 of the retirement and social security law. Expedited. (Submitted by Kent Drake-Dreese, Personnel Director) 

  • Summary: This discussion was moved to a private executive session because it was focused on a single individual.

RL24-56 A Resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into an agreement with Harding Brooks Agency for the City for Workers Compensation Insurance. (Submitted by Kent Drake-Dreese, Personnel Director) 

  • Summary: Picking from one of two available options. This one is located in Vestal.

RL24-61 An Ordinance to amend the 2024 budget for the demolition of a fire damaged property at 122 Henry. (Submitted by Megan Heiman, Deputy Mayor)

  • Summary: Anzaroot property that was part of his settlement with the city. It was not owned by the city at the time of its burning.

RL24-42 An ordinance amending Chapter 400 of the City Charter, Vehicles and Traffic, adding the prohibition of operation of off-road vehicles in the City of Binghamton. (Submitted by Councilperson Mativetsky for reconsideration)

  • Summary: Adding some clarification to the off-road vehicle debate. BPD does in fact get the money that comes from selling impounded vehicles. Hotchkiss proposed that the money go to youth programs instead. Councilmembers proposed increased tracking of impoundments with a distinction made between road-legal vehicles and off-road vehicles so they can see the extent of the problem going forward. Apparently the city council was given the number of impounded vehicles by BPD and it was much lower than the mayor suggested. These numbers have not been made available to the public as far as I know. Deputy Mayor Heiman was allowed to speak and said this is an urgent issue and should be voted on soon because the weather is warming up. Mativetsky suggested different punishments for night-time use of off-road vehicles. Hotchkiss requested bodycam footage from the recent ATV incident at Benjamin Franklin but was denied. Dundon submitted a photo of a person using an off-road vehicle to transport groceries.

RL24-54 A Resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza (Submitted by Amari Pavati)

  • Summary: This 22-page resolution would be sent to state and federal leaders. It calls for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and gives some background to the situation. 
  • My Take: The resolution is clearly designed to be as simple and uncontroversial as possible. It’s a plea to stop the violence while avoiding much of the violence that led up to the genocide and the continuing violence that will come after it. This is a US issue perpetrated by the US for the benefit of the US. All local governments – even little old Binghamton – have a responsibility to at least reckon with their connection to all of the death and suffering. Palestine is not a new hot button issue and it is not happening in some disconnected geopolitical bubble. Here’s an article from 2002 by former BU professor Silvia Federici on the larger forces at work in the conflict. I think it still resonates today.

See you tonight at the City Council Business Meeting for public comment and voting. Here’s the agenda and packet.

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