Binghamton City Council Work Session Report – 4.8.24

This is a summary of legislation discussed at the Binghamton City Council Work Session on April 8th, 2024. These Requests for Legislation would be voted on at the City Council Business Meeting on April 24th.




RL24-67 A Resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into agreement No. 2 with GHD for CSO-LTCP Post Construction compliance monitoring program – Submitted by Ron Lake, City Engineer 

  • Summary: CSO-LTCP = Combined Sewer Overflows – Long Term Control Plan. Required by DEC. Monitoring the rivers for three months then writing a report to the DEC. Unrelated to the sewage treatment plant.

RL24-68 A Resolution authorizing the Mayor to accept a $25,000 grant from Broome County for mural at Mirabito Stadium – Submitted by Sarah Glose, Director of Economic Development 

  • Summary: This money was awarded through the Broome County small community grant program. Passed by the County Legislature. Fund has $650,000. City requested $50,000. According to Glose, the Rumble Ponies are trying to attract more students and young professionals. Artist and design not yet set. Broome County has a list of eligible artists the city can choose from.
  • My Take: Polishing a turd. Imagine how much more appealing Broome County would be to these coveted young professionals if we had good public transit, cheap rent, and more grocery stores. Unfortunately those would require long term investment and thinking (plus they would – gasp! – benefit low-income people) so I guess we’ll have to settle for $650,000 in mediocre graffiti. Also: more public money going to promote a private business that is already grossly extorting the public and their employees

RL24-69 A Resolution authorizing the Mayor to accept an Energy Efficient Community Block Grant from DOE in the amount of $76,690 for the purchase of electric vehicles – Submitted by Juliet Berling, Director of Planning 

  • Summary: Fleet electrification. Would likely be purchasing Nissan Leafs (Leaves?) for Code Enforcement and/or Parks and Recreation. 3-4 vehicles. Can reapply every year.

RL24-70 An Ordinance to reformat R23-92 to meet State Historic Preservation Office Resolution requirements – Submitted by Juliet Berling, Director of Planning 

  • Summary: Amending the already-passed resolution to meet state formatting standards.

RL24-66 An Ordinance to amend O24-21 Sections E and F to make clear that all payments will be deducted first from New York State pensions – Submitted by Samantha Costello, Deputy Clerk 

  • Summary: Amending language in already-passed resolution to clarify it.

Comptroller’s Quarterly Financial Report § 5-32 Comptroller to provide financial information. The Comptroller will provide (i) all financial reports, audit reports, weekly revenue/budget reports, (ii) each fund’s cash balance and interfund advances, and (iii) random audit results, to the Mayor and members of City Council on at least a quarterly basis via a shared internet portal site. 

  • Summary: The Comptroller is required by the City Charter to provide financial info to the City Council quarterly. He passed out a draft document with some revenue and expenses laid out but said he wouldn’t have the final numbers until May. The City Council wanted these unofficial numbers made public but Shager and Corporation Counsel Sophie Bergman explained that discrepancies between the draft document (which she says are “just a snapshot and subject to change” and the final document would be “misleading to the public” and “lead to further problems.” The May Report will reflect last year plus the first quarter of this year. Shager will answer questions at the Thursday Finance Committee Meeting.
    • Preliminary “Executive Summary” estimates submitted by Shager: 
  • General Fund (taxes paid to city): $41 Million.
    • $27.5 million is in cash. 
    • $10 million is in receivables owed to the city.
      • $4 million from county in sales tax
      • $4 million from the sewer fund
      • $2 million from “prepaids for retirement and health insurance that we have to pay in 2023 for the year 2024.”
    • City has $22.9 Million in liabilities. $3 million in expenses due in 2024 that were purchased in 2023. The rest is mostly deferred revenue associated with the ARPA funds (Covid relief money). $17 Million was unspent at the end of 2023 but almost all of it is already allocated.
      • Asked by Councilperson Middleton how they gave ARPA money to the Salvation Army if it’s all spent, Shager replied that they know some unspent money will be coming back and they were pulling from that.
    • General fund balance: $18.1 million
      • $2.2 million is non-spendable (already committed)
      • $3 million in reserves (?)
      • $1 million already committed to 2024 budget
      • $11.9 million unrestricted fund balance
  • 2023 Revenue: $84.2 million
    • $33.7 million in tax payments by residents
    • $16.5 million from sales tax
    • $15 million from ARPA funds
    • $9 million from state aid
    • The rest?
  • 2023 Expenses: $83.7 million
    • Wages: $31.5 Million
    • Benefits: $18.8 Million
    • Debt Service: $6 Million
    • ARPA: 15 Million
    • Utilities: $1.2 Million
    • The rest?
  • My Take: Shager has been Comptroller (a Republican appointee) since June 2014. He’ll hit ten years at the position in June. I think it’s telling that in ten years he apparently hasn’t come up with a method of concisely explaining city finances to the City Council, even though quarterly reports are mandated in the City Charter. His job seems mainly to be finding money to pay for projects initiated by the mayor. The tag team of Shager and Bergman seem determined to obscure city finances from the public on behalf of Jared Kraham. They are afraid transparency might create some nonspecific “trouble,” but that’s not the public’s problem, it’s theirs.

See you all tonight at City Hall at 6:00 for the Wednesday Business Meeting for voting (on, among other legislation, a Gaza Ceasefire resolution) plus public comment.

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