Binghamton City Council Work Session Report – 5.6.2024

This is a summary of legislation discussed at the Binghamton City Council Work Session on May 6th, 2024. These Requests for Legislation would be voted on at a later City Council Business Meeting.




RL24-91 A Resolution to amend City Charter Chapter 45: Binghamton Human Rights Law to include “unhoused status” as a protected class. Presented by former (and possibly future) City Councilperson Rebecca Rathmell.

  • Summary: Resolution designed to prevent discrimination against unhoused people simply based on their status as an unhoused person. Would not apply to unhoused people who violate other rules, laws, ordinances, etc. Example given by Rathmell was an unhoused person at the library: they could be removed for violating library rules, but not for simply being unhoused. Councilmember Kosty pushed for clarity on a hypothetical rec park encampment. Rathmell: resolution would not give unrestrained right for someone to sleep wherever they choose. The resolution would also require advanced notice of encampment removal and it would ideally prevent illegal search and seizure. Broome county supreme court would hear complaints made by those whose rights were violated.
  • My Take: I think housing should be a human right and whatever can be done to make life easier for unhoused people is a worthy cause. I’m skeptical that this would actually prevent discrimination since police and security personnel would surely come up with flimsy reasons to violate these rights whenever possible. Hopefully the threat of being taken to court would deter some of these violations but I think that might require more robust advocacy and support systems than currently exist in the area. The real long-term solutions are housing and healthcare, but access to those services will not be getting any easier.

RL24-88. Expedited. A Resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into an agreement with NYSDOT for Route 11 Wall Replacement Project D265276*. Presented by Ron Lake, City Engineer.

  • Summary: $65,700 total estimated cost over 25 years. City will be paying for new lights along Upper Court Street.

RL24-85 A Resolution to accept funding from the Office of the District Attorney’s Traffic Diversion Program not to exceed $66,000 for the installation of cameras to enhance public safety. Presented by Megan Heiman, Deputy Mayor, and Ryan Wood from the Crime Analysis Center.

  • Summary: Funding would be coming from the District Attorney’s traffic diversion program. According to Councilmember Middleton, “Every district would want these cameras.” Wood said there are currently twenty active cameras in the city and these new ones will mostly be placed in the North Street corridor and the North Side. The DA wanted the cameras in these areas based on crime stats.
  • My Take: Crime data is bullshit and mostly based on over-policing of low-income areas. I used to live near North Street and you’d see BPD driving around the block all day and night. There’s at least one pro-gentrification landlord I know of on North Street who’s been calling the cops daily for years and now we have to spend tens of thousands on government surveillance for an area that was redlined in the 1930s and is still the poorest neighborhood in the city. Fish in a barrel for the prison industrial complex.

RL24-92 CDAC Presentation to City Council and Mayor’s Office FY50 approved and voted on CDAC budget. Presented by Stephen Carson (HUD Admin & Housing) and Justin MacGregor (CDAC member)

  • Summary: Presenting the 2024 budget for the Community Development Advisory Committee. First time funding Makerspace. Increased funding for NOMA ($20k, though they asked for $90k). $100k for AVRE facade repairs. 
  • My Take: I tried watching the CDAC meeting video but the sound was horrible. $20k to promote community engagement in NOMA but $66k to surveil NOMA. Shows that the city would rather jail and displace residents than support them.

RL24-89. Expedited. An ordinance to rescind a portion of Permanent Ordinance O6-46*. Presented by Corporation Counsel Sophie Bergman. 

  • Summary: Owner is trying to sell 154 Murray street for $15k and needs deed restriction removed by city.

RL 24-90. Expedited. An ordinance to rescind a portion of Permanent Ordinance O23-155*. Presented by Corporation Counsel Sophie Bergman.

  • Summary: 22 and 30 charles street industrial park were transferred to BLDC. This ordinance would merge the parcels. The mayor is hoping this will someday be converted to a business park.

RL24-93 An Ordinance to amend Charter Chapter 307-35 for vending hours. Presented by Councilmember Nate Hotchkiss.

  • Summary: Ordinance would allow food carts to operate downtown until 1 am (potentially 3 am). Current regulations only allow operation until 9 pm.

Presentation of quarterly financials and ARPA funding by City Comptroller Chuck Shager.

  • Summary: Shager presented the City Council with documentation explaining the use of ARPA funds. This information was not included in the meeting packet. Councilmember Middleton challenged whether the money was used wisely for the benefit of all city residents. Shager argued that the money was used to leverage larger projects ($1 million to start a $3 million project etc). Dundon argued that line items simply saying “personal services” aren’t clear enough. Councilmember Hotchkiss asked for clarification on the youth programming expense line: according to Deputy Mayor Heiman $850k was given to the Community Foundation to allocate grants. A total of $46 million was allocated and there is $301k left to spend. Money could hypothetically be pulled back from committed allocations, but Shager and Bergman said that process would be “complicated.” 
  • My Take: Hard to know what to believe without seeing the numbers, but it seems clear the Comptroller is either incompetent, hiding something, or likely both. I think Councilmember Middleton captured the feeling best when she described this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to invest in a new vision for the city that was mostly squandered on covering routine costs, most of which were likely the result of mismanagement by the city.

RL24-87 An Ordinance to modify Ordinances 22-14 and 22-62. Presented by City Comptroller Chuck Shager.

  • Summary: Annual financial report submitted to the state. This report was also not included in the meeting packet. Some numbers according to Shager:
    • 30% of city expenses are going to health insurance claims made by city employees.
    • There are 40 open positions in the city, which Shager estimates will lead to $900k in unspent funds.
  • My Take: Again, hard to know without seeing the numbers. Why not release them to the public?

Discussion about Occupancy Tax (RL-24-94). Expedited. Presented by Mayor Jared Kraham.

  • Summary: Kraham’s pitch: He wants this tax on hotel stays to pay for our publicly owned baseball stadium’s debt service, saying that taxpayers pay $700k per year on the bond ordinance and $35k per year on stadium maintenance, which reflects 2% of all property tax revenue. “City taxpayers are paying an unfair burden to keep the team here.” Broome County has a 5% occupancy tax. For the two hotels in Binghamton he estimates this would bring in $600k per year. Requires process through NY State Legislature. Has to happen this week or wait until the next legislative session.
  • According to Councilmember Mativetsky, City council can determine the percentage plus the number of years this would apply. Tax wouldn’t necessarily have to fund the stadium.
  • My Take: The stadium seems like a total money pit. I agree with Hotchkiss that it should pay for itself or fold. The tax is a good idea but should be used for affordable housing.


See you all tonight at 6 for voting and public comment.

Scroll to Top