Thursday, April 21, 2016

See for Yourself . . .

The video of Tuesday night's Common Council meeting can now be viewed online. So, pour yourself a glass of wine or grab a beer, settle back, and click here to view what has been described as "the most chaotic Council meeting ever."



  1. It seems the argument was moot, because the Board of Estimate has to approve as part of its budget process, and that has not happened yet. So the law that was passed by the council about increasing youth funding, cannot take effect even if the mayor signs it, absent the BOE then signing off. My understanding, is that under the bizarre NY and local laws, after a budget is adopted, then the council can increase spending. But not before. If so, it's really all sound and fury signifying nothing.

    Don Moore seems to have another point of view, that the BOE is not in the loop. Some day I will understand all of this far better than I do now. Somebody has to! :)

  2. Oh, based on my recollection of something Don told me back when, I think his position is that the council cannot formally vote to increase the budget, but they can at any time essentially ignore the budget and vote to spend more of less on programs. If that is Don's position, and he's right, then well, none of it makes any sense and the only function of the budget it to set the tax rates, but it's otherwise essentially meaningless on the spending side.

    Maybe Don will weigh in on this.

  3. Very enlightening! The meeting was reminiscent of old times, but incredibly worse. Thanks for posting.

  4. In brief, my argument is quite to the contrary of what Steve represents. The authority described for the BEA has to do with the formulation of the annual budget, as required by the City Charter to be prepared by the end of November and, according to the NYS Constitution, to be balanced. The BEA's authority beyond the annual budget addresses expenditures proposed by the executive branch agencies during the year, not those proposed by the Council.

    Article 34-4 of the Charter specifies the Council's authority as: "No person shall have power to make any purchase or contract any debt on behalf of the City, except as herein provided. No account, claim or demand of any kind shall be audited, allowed or paid by the Common Council or by any board or commission unless the same was duly authorized or ratified by it."

    In the absence of a specific prohibition against Council consideration and adoption of expenditures, the only restriction on the Council (Charter Article 12-14) in "The Common Council shall contract no debt and authorize no expenditure on the part of the City which shall not be payable in the fiscal year in which it is contracted or within one month thereafter and from the revenues of the fiscal year in which it was contracted, except as herein otherwise provided."

  5. I think my second comment is not inconsistent with what Don says. The BEA sets a budget that determines tax rates, but when it comes to spending, the Council by passing laws can increase or decrease spending, assuming it does not entail incurring debt not repaid within the fiscal year. So the budget is basically toothless on the spending side, if the Council has the votes to change it.

    Don adds an interesting tidbit, that the the BEA can change the budget apparently based on proposals by the Mayor. What impact that has eventually on tax rates I don't know.

    Needless to say, it's complicated. But it would be good if everybody understood it, if only because it might avoid some of the contretemps that we all watched on the video.