City to vote on change to controller's position

By REBECCA WEBSTER

Recorder News Staff

A new local law detailing a move to change the controller's position from elected to appointed will make its way to a referendum this summer.

At Tuesday's Common Council meeting in City Hall, the council, along with Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane, briefly brought up Local Law 2013-A, a law revising the city charter to make the controller position appointed, rather than elected.

The local law also would bring changes to the city's budget review process.

Fourth Ward Alderman David Dybas, Second Ward Alderwoman Valerie Beekman, and Third Ward Alderwoman Gina DeRossi voted "yes" to the law.

First Ward Alderman Joseph Isabel was not in attendance.

But Fifth Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero voted "no" to the charter change.

Following the meeting, Leggiero stated that his reason was simple: He agreed with part of it, but not all of it.

"I was in agreement with part of it, which meant there would be some qualifications for the job and that's the only thing I felt needed to be changed on that whole thing," he said. "As far as the controller's position goes, I thought I would have liked to see it remain in the control of the voters."

Leggiero said he felt all along that the qualification portion was the only thing that needed to be changed.

But come June, the voters will have their say.

Thane said after the meeting that the next step will be a Public Hearing on the local law, where she will be available to listen to what citizens have to say.

"We're going to schedule a special election about this ordinance in June," she added. "I would hope the constituents support this so that we get qualified people in the position and that it becomes much more stable in the finance department."

That public hearing date has yet to be set.

In the meantime, the council and mayor will be going through the budget for the coming year.

Budget review sessions will be scheduled and the council will go through, line by line, to make revisions.

During the meeting, Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis informed the council that he has already gotten changes from some of the departments regarding their portions of the $27 million budget, but he will compile those and present them to the council at their coming budget review sessions.

Deputy Controller David Mitchell was not in attendance at the meeting Tuesday. Dybas told fellow council members that Mitchell was attending a training session for the KVS system.

"Before he left, he supplied to me some information I've been requesting since I first came on the council," Dybas said.

In one of the resolutions before the council that night was one that referenced a handful of accounts.

Dybas read aloud the balances of each account, which included a $7 million balance in the city's Suspense Account.

"All those add up to approximately $8 million which is quite a sizable amount of cash," Dybas said.

He continued later: "In any event, this is some of the information I asked for way before this came on. I would like to publicly thank Mr. Mitchell for that."

When asked about the account balances after the meeting, Thane said it wasn't unknown information.

"I wasn't surprised at the numbers at all. We have talked in this room about the Suspense Account and how much money is in the Suspense Account so it was not any surprise," she said. "Some of the accounts are holding accounts and I know that the new deputy controller is closing out some of the accounts that he does not feel are necessary, and I think we're in very good hands now that we have a deputy controller in place."

Also at the Tuesday meeting, council members voted "yes" to a change to the Winter Parking Ordinance. The changes made to the ordinance included changing all of the "shall" words to "may."

For example, a portion of the ordinance now states: "When any vehicle is found unattended on any highway or public parking lot within the City where said vehicle constitutes an obstruction to planned road maintenance, then said vehicle may be removed by or under the direction of the City Police Department."

Dybas, who had originally suggested the change to "shall," voted against the ordinance change.