By CASEY CROUCHER
The Amsterdam Common Council is looking to cut city department budgets by 1 percent.
On Wednesday night, Third Ward Alderman Ronald J. Barone Sr. asked Controller Matthew Agresta to send a memo out to the city's department heads regarding a 1 percent budget cut during at a brief council budget meeting in City Hall.
Barone said he won't change his mind about budget cuts that he proposes from now until the budget vote.
"Whatever I propose to cut, I'm staying there, that's my decision," he said. "I'm just telling the council and I'm not speaking for the council, I'm speaking for myself."
The council also briefly discussed its opinions on a series of budget cuts. These include removal of the extra $1 per hour given to Water Department employees, saving $17,494; removal of a 2 percent raise for the corporation counsel, saving $1,380; removal of the corporation counsel's assistant, saving $31,212; removal of a new employee relations position, saving $38,509; removal of the economic development director, saving $45,000; decreasing the fire department's overtime budget line by $25,000; and removing the position of a second Department of Public Works supervisor, saving $56,363.
All of the cuts were unanimously agreed upon, except for the elimination of the corporation counsel's assistant and the economic development director.
Second Ward Alderwoman Valerie Beekman said she'd have to make a phone call before making any decisions regarding those positions. She wouldn't say who she'd be calling.
Fourth Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler suggested changing the economic development director's duties and title after reading the position's responsibilities from the city charter.
"Maybe what we should do is change his title from 'economic development' to something like 'community-based development," Hatzenbuhler said. "We've got [the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency] and the Urban Renewal Agency, and yes the economic development director talks with those agencies and coordinates with them but his projects are totally different from theirs."
Beekman said the council "is trying to tell a man how to do his job." Hatzenbuhler told her she was just reiterating the charter.
"I've got to make a phone call for myself before making a decision on this," Beekman said. "Then I'll get back to you on this."
The council didn't make a decision regarding Hatzenbuhler's suggestion.
Barone said the budget cuts discussed were liable to change regarding the 1 percent decrease in the department budgets. He said the council will have to review numbers.
He said the council doesn't have a total projected spending amount for next year's budget yet, and they have a lot of work to do.
"We don't have a tough road to hoe but it's a little road that we've got to go down and it might be a little crooked so we might have to straighten it out," he said.
He said the changing of the economic development director's title and other proposals discussed in the meeting are just talk at the moment.
"There's a lot of things they're talking about and all it is is talk right now," he said.
Barone said the 1 percent budget decrease for the departments might "change a lot of attitudes."
"We really don't know where we are in the budget," he said. "I don't think anyone's looking to lay off anyone but there are times when you have to look at it. But the 1 percent change might change some thoughts here."