Binghamton Budget Talks Grow Heated

By Erika Mahoney

October 17, 2012 Updated Oct 17, 2012 at 9:22 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Tensions ran high inside Binghamton City Council Tuesday night as officials tried to finalize a $62 million budget.

Much of the disagreement focused on how council will spend tax revenue.

On Monday night, projected Broome County sales tax figures came through, predicting a little more than $333,000, which goes straight to Binghamton city coffers.

While some council members want that money to be used to lower the proposed property tax rate below the 7.2 percent tax cap, Mayor Matt Ryan proposes using some of that money to restore cuts.

He said he would like to see one code enforcement position restored, smart phones for code officials, and a two dollar pay increase for the city clerk.

"I'm hoping tonight that we can kind of finalize this process and preserve those critical services for our constituents and get to our shared goal of getting below the tax cap," said Ryan.

Councilwoman Teri Rennia said she believes it is her job to get the lowest tax rate possible.

"As opposed to saying, oh here is some additional revenue, so let's just stop cutting and maybe restore one or two things, we still got the tax cap down, the property tax cap down, so that's okay... for some of us, that's not okay, we would like to continue and try to get it down lower," said Rennia.

Rennia said Tuesday night was really the first time budget debates grew heated after four weeks of working on the budget. But she said she viewed the conversations positively, a sign that everyone cares deeply about drafting a budget that is fair to taxpayers.

The final council meeting on the budget is Wednesday, with a public hearing on Monday.