30 Pieces of Silver…

Day by day the City of Amsterdam Budget Review Committee meets and plots how they will increasingly betray us by imposing an ever growing water use fee to balance the budget. This proposed increase was first reported to be 37% and is now being reported by Jim McGuire of The Gazette as a 48% increase!

There was a 3% cap placed on the water fee by ordinance voted by referendum. But this seems to mean nothing to this committee who want to balance the budget on the backs of homeowners who are also facing a 16.2% increase in school tax.  Private water corporations who sell their utility to consumers are regulated by NYS Public Service Commission who, to insure it is justified, must approve any amount that is the greater of 2.5%  or $300,000. The City of Amsterdam also has ordinances in place that prohibit using revenue collected from water fees for purposes other than maintaining the water delivery system. Balancing the City budget is NOT a fiscal emergency!

Article X  C-66 [Amended 4-18-1995 by L.L. No. 1-1995]

The entire annual receipts for water and sewer rents, after deducting therefrom such sums as may be necessary to defray the expenses of departmental operations, capital maintenance and replacement and any transfer to the general fund as provided by New York State General Municipal Law § 94, shall be applied to payment of interest on the debt contracted for building and construction of the water and sanitary sewer systems and the Interest of any debt which has been contracted by the City of Amsterdam for like purposes; if any surplus shall remain it shall be set apart and invested by the Controller as a sinking fund or reserve for the payment of such debts

C-67 [Amended 4-18-1995 by L.L. No. 1-1995]

A. There shall be established and maintained by the Controller a special revenue fund for the water system, into which revenues raised through its operations shall be deposited. Said revenues shall be used solely for the operations, maintenance and facilities of the water system and for transfers to the general fund as provided by New York State General Municipal Law § 94. A record of all expenses associated with the operations of the water system shall be forwarded to the Controller’s office as they are incurred. Transactions conducted between said fund and the general fund or between said fund and another special revenue fund shall be billed and vouchered through the Controller’s office.

B. There shall be established and maintained by the Controller a special revenue fund for the sanitary sewer system, into which revenues raised through its operations shall be deposited. Said revenues shall be used solely for the operations, maintenance and facilities of the sanitary sewer system. A record of all expenses associated with the operations of the sanitary sewer system shall be forwarded to the Controller’s office as they are incurred. Transactions conducted between said fund and the general fund or between said fund and another special revenue fund shall be billed and vouchered through the Controller’s office.

C. The water and sanitary sewer systems shall each be independently self-sustaining through revenues. As regards operations, capital improvements, debt redemption and all other related costs and expenses, the general fund shall not subsidize the water and/or sanitary sewer funds nor shall either of said funds subsidize the other. Interfund borrowing shall only occur if the Mayor, upon recommendation of the Controller, shall declare a fiscal emergency or need to exist in one or the other of the funds mentioned above and the Common Council concurs by a four-fifths vote. All interfund loans shall be repaid within the period of one year from the date they were made.

Don’t sell us out for 30 pieces of silver! We beseech theesave the people of our beautiful city!

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3 thoughts on “30 Pieces of Silver…

  1. Those little Charter provisions can be annoying, can’t they?

    I remember when we were debating this back in 1982 when I was Chairman of the City Charter Commission, member Vito Dandreano, who had had many years of local legislative experience, told us there was no point in putting those restrictions in, because the city government would just ignore it whenever it suited their purposes.

    My memory is a little hazy, but I believe that we failed to get this adopted at that time, because we lumped it together with a whole series of other amendments, but that it was ultimately reintroduced as a Local Law by former Charter Commission member David Pietrusza when he served 1986/87 as 4th Ward Alderman and adopted.

    • It is extremely frustrating to witness the lack of knowledge and forethought of our elected officials.

      I can understand the need to raise water fees, just not for the sole purpose of balancing the budget. The NYS Public Service Commission has established a rate increase of under 2.5% as reasonable. Amounts above the established percentage are considered a “major change” and must be justified.

      If the City wants to increase water rates by 48%, install a water meter in every living quarters and charge for actual consumption! That way the increase will be more equitably distributed and can be financed by renters and homeowners alike.

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