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Council's budget debate to continue

A special meeting of the Olean Common Council will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, and Council President Ray Wangelin said he hopes a 2007-08 budget will be adopted at that time.

The debate continues to rage on how the city will find its way out of what has been estimated to be more than a $5 million deficit. Mayor David J. Carucci told aldermen Tuesday that he is working out the terms to finalize a $4.3 million deficit spending bond measure that will provide some cash by summer.

After the Council meeting ended Tuesday night, Carucci said the city will undoubtedly need to adopt another revenue anticipation note during the coming year in order to stay afloat.

Carucci said he gave the Council a revised budget proposal Tuesday but did not make it public because it will be changed again for the Council's consideration Thursday.

Several spending proposals have been placed on the table for consideration by Sunday's passage deadline. Among them are Carucci's proposed $14,050,666 plan of April 3 supported by a 22.2 percent tax hike. Another is a trimmed-down version in which Public Works Director Tim Windus offered Tuesday to cut four parks workers for a budget totaling $13,871,628 and a tax hike of 17.5 percent.

A third option would have a state control board establish spending parameters for all departments in a proposal sent up last week to the mayor, auditor and Council by Police Chief Terry Schnell. He called for such a control board after seeing successive cuts in his department's budget and his own effort to trim $231,297 from his department's overhead.

Also on Tuesday, during a Committee of the Whole meeting, Council members handed Carucci a four-page list of suggested spending, including:

* $48,333.33 from auto repair line items for police, fire and garage departments.

* $20,000 from the $60,000 animal-control line item.

* 16 layoffs in various departments.

* Closing of the city jail and housing prisoners in the county jail.

* The elimination of all but mandatory training and travel.

* Close the airport several days a week.

* Eliminate Marcus Park and sell it to private residential developers.

* Cut 2 percent more from all departmental budgets.

Carucci said he had not had time to look the list over but he did not rule out incorporating some of the aldermen's suggestions into a new proposal for Thursday's debate.

Both Wangelin and Carucci said they do not agree with the suggestion for a control board because the city has not reached its maximum taxing level.

The most recent proposal would trim programs for senior citizens at the John Ash Community Center but would keep the building open.

Wangelin said that if those cuts are left in the version of the budget that is adopted, he will "propose a resolution to reinstate the money out of the contingency [fund] to get the [Ash] Center running."

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