Olean Mayor David J. Carucci believes some of the state's $2 billion surplus should be used to provide relief for Olean as the city struggles to meet a $1.2 million pension payment and find a way out of its 2005-06 budget deficit.
Carucci said Sunday he will make that appeal Tuesday in Albany and has scheduled Tuesday meetings with Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda, and State Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean. He traveled to Albany for today's New York Council of Mayors conference.
"I want to put my two cents in on where we are going with the $2 billion surplus. I feel there should be some sort of pension payback relief. I'm looking for some help financially," Carucci said.
Carucci inherited fiscal troubles upon taking office in January and received Young's help in obtaining an early distribution of some of the city's sales tax revenue to meet payroll in February.
His $14.5 million 2006-07 budget proposal, with a 37 percent tax hike, was rejected last week by the City Operations Committee. Opposition has been expressed by city residents and continued during three days of department head presentations last week.
Carucci said some who attended the meetings suggested unrealistic solutions to the city's monetary woes, such as eliminating the Fire Department and replacing it with volunteers. He said some minor adjustments were made as a result of the meetings, and he encouraged citizens to call him with ideas at his office, 376-5615, drop in at City Hall or send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For now, he said he is working on a plan for the budget and it will take shape over the next week or two. He has proposed an 8 percent hike in the sewer rates that could help repay some of the independent fund's debt to the city's general fund over the next year or two.
"I don't want this increase either. I got to pay [taxes] like everybody else does," he said.
Carucci said he also will ask Young and Giglio if a three-year fiscal plan, due to the state comptroller by March 31, can be postponed until his budget is finalized.
He said he also will ask the lawmakers to increase payments to the break-even point for city snowplowing and maintaining North and South Union streets, a practice that has been in place for decades.
The Common Council meets Tuesday night. Council President Ray Wangelin said the budget is "not even close to being adopted with a 37 percent tax hike." He added it probably will be a topic of informal discussion.
Ward 7 Alderman John Padlo agreed that acceptance of the budget is impossible in its present form and said he is waiting for something more realistic.
He said his "mantra" is relief from the state for the city's pension payment.
"We're early enough in the budget process where we still have time to work this out," Padlo said.