Binghamton City Council Work Session Report – 6.3.24

This is a summary of legislation discussed at the Binghamton City Council Work Session on June 3rd, 2024. These Requests for Legislation would be voted on at a later City Council Business Meeting. Send me comments/tips/corrections/threats on Reddit.

Some breaking news regarding Introductory Ordinance O24-38: The mayor has vetoed the legislation (passed 7-0) by the city council which would change the weekend operating hours for food carts downtown from 9 am – 9 pm to 6 am – 3 am. I guess Rich David (owner of Stadium 138), Mark Yonaty (owner of the Courtside Bar & Grill)  and the rest of the Downtown Business Cabal are afraid of the competition. The veto will almost certainly be overridden.




RL 24-114: A Resolution authorizing the Mayor to accept the COPS Hiring Program grant. Presented by David Bidwell, BPD Captain.

  • Summary: $250k in federal money over three years to fund two cop hires. Captain Bidwell runs the Southern Tier Crime Analysis Center and says this money would lead to more foot and bike patrols and “community policing.” City would need to match these funds with $237k. Councilwoman Mativetsky asked if a waiver against matching funds was possible but Bidwell couldn’t answer. Councilman Porter asked if money already budgeted for new hires could be redirected and Bidwell said probably not. Grant has been received previously. Bidwell said there are 30 current BPD vacancies and 15 recruits in the academy. 

Added to Agenda: Discussion of surveillance cameras 

  • Bidwell encouraged the city council to accept the $66k in new surveillance cameras from the DA’s office. He also mentioned that Governor Hochul increased funding for license plate readers and other cameras statewide and the money for that will be coming through the city council soon. “The three most important things in solving crimes: Pole cameras, LPRs and NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network).”

RL 24-109: An Ordinance to modify the Fire budget to cover the cost of new gear for new firefighters. Presented by Al Gardiner, Fire Chief.

  • Summary: $44k requested. Money being transferred is budgeted to vacant positions. “Costs about $5k to outfit a firefighter and it should be replaced every ten years.”

RL 24-108: An Ordinance to modify the IT budget to Fund the IT Manager position. Presented by Chuck Shager, City Comptroller.

  • Summary: $18,726 for back pay to the IT Manager who has been filling in for a retiring employee. “Fund the IT manager position back to March 2, 2024, change the salary to $82k effective to the same date, and account for payout to the retiring employee.” 

RL 24-112: An Ordinance to modify 2024 Finance budget for payout of an employee in the Finance department*. Presented by Chuck Shager, City Comptroller. Expedited 7-0.

  • Summary: Shager is leaving his position so he’s asking for his $45k in payout to be expedited. Money is being transferred from vacant positions in fire dept. He will be replaced by his assistant Chuck Robinson.

RL 24-111: An Ordinance to modify 2024 budget to account for vacancies in the amount of $982,833.56. Presented by Chuck Shager, City Comptroller.

  • Summary: Shager said this money was intentionally over-budgeted, so these vacancies won’t actually open up any money in the budget. Shager accomplishes this by adding a negative “Salary Adjustment” line item to the budget anticipating the number of vacant positions. Here’s all the positions that are being left vacant (except, he said, 1 fire position and 3 police positions, in case someone wants to transfer):
  • My Take: As always with Chuck Shager, these RLs are pretty mystifying to a casual observer like me. The fact that the city can anticipate vacancies and almost precisely prefigure them into the budget begs the question: what do they gain from it? Doesn’t it disincentivize filling the positions? According to Shager the city knew they wouldn’t be filling most of the positions and so the maneuver prevented a 3% jump in taxes. It also seems to be a way to keep 30 police positions on the books so the mayor can avoid looking like he’s cutting the police budget as a result of the drop in applications. It also might be a startegy to keep the city council from using that money to fund projects of their own, which Shager and Kraham seem desperate to avoid.

RL 24-113: A Resolution to Amend the City of Binghamton Complete Streets Policy. Presented by Tito Martinez, Assistant Planning Director.

  • Summary: Creating a checklist for the Complete Streets Policy to consider pedestrians and people with disabilities in street construction. Having the checklist is a prerequisite for getting certain grants.

RL 24-117: A Resolution authorizing 6th Ward Sewer Interceptor Amendment 3 to Barton Loguidice Engineering agreement*. Presented by Ron Lake, Director of Engineering. Expedited 7-0.

  • Summary: Environmental Facilities Control is demanding this change. 

RL 24-110: An Ordinance to modify the Capital Fund to close out remaining funds on bonded projects to the serial bond account. Presented by Chuck Shager, City Comptroller and Chuck Robinson, Current Assistant Comptroller and soon-to-be new City Comptroller.

  • Summary: Dealing with ~ $2 million that went unspent on bonded projects.

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. Presented by Chuck Shager, City Comptroller.

  • Summary: As usual with Shager presentations, none of this info is in the meeting packet. According to him everything is looking good except maybe streetlight costs and fire department overtime, which are on the rise. Shager claimed that a 2% tax increase would cost each Binghamton homeowner an additional $600 a year and warned that a citywide reassessment might cause tax increases for some homeowners. He suggested doing smaller assessments in “blocks.” Shager closed by noting that recent upgrades at the Joint Sewage Treatment Plant have greatly improved the condition of the rivers.

RL 24-107: An Ordinance to amend the 2024 Budget for the demolition of fire damaged properties at 124 and 126 Henry St. Presented by Megan Heiman, Deputy Mayor. 

  • Summary: $49k paid to Gorick Construction and Keystone Environmental Associates.

RL 24-115: A Resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into an agreement with WPD not to exceed $18,880. Presented by Megan Heiman, Deputy Mayor. Not expedited 3-3 (Porter, Cavanaugh, Mativetsky Dissenting).

  • Summary: Improvements at Columbus Park. Initiated by Astor D. Rice Foundation. Continuing work from Rich David’s failed attempt at building a Youth Center there.

RL 24-119: A Resolution authorizing the acceptance of a statue from the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation. Presented by Megan Heiman, Deputy Mayor. 

  • Summary: Will be placed at Rec Park at the corner of Seminary and Laurel. Pictured above.

RL 24-116: A Resolution authorizing the City to apply for and accept entitlement grants from HUD in the amount of $2,872,045. Presented by Megan Heiman, Deputy Mayor. 

  • Summary: Small changes suggested by the mayor to the CDAC budget. 

RL 24-104: A Resolution to authorize free parking at all municipal parking ramps for July Fest 7/12-7/14. Presented by Samantha Costello, Deputy Clerk.

  • Summary: Has happened every year for forty years, according to Costello.

RL 24-105: A Local Law to amend City of Binghamton Charter Chapter 45A, Binghamton Human Rights Commission. 

  • Summary: Legislation to bring back the HRC, which was dissolved/disused in 2016 by Rich David. Corporation Counsel said this would need to go through a referendum in November. Would be a local body to receive claims of human rights abuses to be passed up to the NY State Commission. Referendum deadline is August 5th. Here are some of the purposes and powers of the proposed committee:
  • My Take: Binghamton is corrupt, incestuous, and racist and the county is even worse. Streamlining a process where people can take their abuse complaints up to the state level (which is all of those things too, but might at least be more impartial) makes sense to me. 

RL 24-118: A Resolution to compel the Mayor to enact Attorney General recommendations (Bad Apples Act)*. Presented by Nate Hotchkiss, Councilmember.

  • Summary: The Mayor still has ninety days to respond to the Attorney General’s report. This legislation would not have any legal power. Hotchkiss made his case for encouraging the mayor to follow the recommendations of the AG but no one else voiced explicit support of the legislation.
  • My take: In response to Councilman Kosty’s “What is this supposed to accomplish?”, Councilman Porter’s “I’d prefer to do something that has actual power,” and the silence of Councilmembers Mativetsky and Dundon (who did finally give Hotchkiss a small kudos for speaking up): three months ago, you unanimously passed a ceasefire resolution that was also symbolic and largely powerless. I don’t see how this is much different. Its effects will actually be more consequential since it’s local. The blowback on city council will be more consequential too, which I would guess explains the lack of vocal support. Just tell the mayor to follow the AG recommendations. BPD is clearly too corrupt to investigate itself. 

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

Scroll to Top