A special city council meeting was convened by Glen Cove Mayor Thomas Suozzi on Oct. 6 to consider the adoption of the city's 1999 budget. In issuing the proposed budget last week, Mayor Suozzi said, "My fourth consecutive 'no new taxes' budget as mayor of this great city reflects the accomplishments we have made in financial stability, productivity, environment and overall reputation and quality of life in our city." Mayor Suozzi reiterated his budget message during the special meeting prior to the page-by-page review of the spending plan. There was considerable debate between the two Republican city councilmen, (Steve Gonzalez and John Maccarone), and Mayor Suozzi along old, familiar party lines. Councilmen Gonzalez and Maccarone made the following statements on Wednesday morning, Oct. 7 to explain why they voted against the adoption of the budget.
"The mayor is relying on one-shot, magic, gimmick revenues in terms of state aid in this budget. If it hadn't been for the governor's $1 million in a state aid allocation- a special one- the city would be facing a deficit. My other concern is the city's bonded indebtedness. The city's principal on bonds in the debt service fund continues to increase year after year. The mayor has budgeted $3,294,500 which is a $572,500 increase from last year's budget. The mayor completely usurped the budget process by not holding budget hearings with the various heads of the city's departments and agencies as it had been the practice in the past. These hearings have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in terms of the preparation of an annual budget," said Councilman Gonzalez.
Councilman John Maccarone added, "As I pointed out at yesterday's meeting, the mayor has received significant amounts of unexpected state aid over the last two years, which he readily agreed was true. And yet, despite these millions of dollars in state aid and extra revenue because of upturns in the economy, we still did not project a surplus in 1997. If we had not received these funds, the city would have a significant deficit. Interestingly, in his budget statement the mayor did not mention these significant revenues and as usual portrayed the 'no new tax increase' as a result of his cutting city spending. The fact of the matter is that the city's spending has gone up by approximately 50 percent in the last few years. If we don't look into saving money, the city will be facing another significant tax increase and deficit. That's why I voted against the budget."
Mayor Suozzi's response to the dissenting councilmen was, "Four consecutive years of no new taxes, a balanced budget, a state controller's report that says that our budget is sound, and still the same old negative, unsubstantiated, non-credible, partisan drivel. I'm sure the people of Glen Cove know by now who is telling the truth. It is a responsible budget, as budgets have been my entire term in office. I have a track record and so do Councilmen Maccarone and Gonzalez. I'll stick with y record and the record of Team Glen Cove."
In emphasizing the soundness of the city's budget, Mayor Suozzi referred to a letter from the office of the State Comptroller, H. Carl McCall. It states, in part, "Our review of the 1999 proposed budget for the City of Glen Cove indicates that the budgeted estimated revenues and appropriations appear reasonable." The letter is signed by Patricia Lamb McCarthy, NYS Deputy Comptroller, Division of Municipal Affairs. Also stated in the letter is the fact that Local Finance Law requires all local governments which have been authorized to issue obligations to fund operating deficits to submit to the State Comptroller each year during the period of probable usefulness, their tentative or preliminary budget within five days of its preparation. The State Comptroller examines the proposed budget and makes recommendations after scrutinizing the estimated revenues and expenditures of the municipal government. Such is the case for Glen Cove. Because of the prior administration's practices of borrowing to fund operating deficits in 1991 and 1992, Glen Cove is required to submit the proposed budget to the State Comptroller's office.