Council to debate the 2018 Operating budget - $30,000 will be used to decide what to do with the Lowville school house.

Budget 2018 ICONBy Pepper Parr

December 27th, 2017



The city Finance department takes care of collecting the money.

They create a budget that gets put through dozens of hoops with no public input until the document is sent along to a Council Standing Committee. The Finance department tells the Councillors what it will take in the way of a tax rate to pay for the contents of the budget.

There is then a full day session when city council meeting as a Standing Committee goes through the budget with as close to a fine tooth comb as Burlington is capable of – based on last year’s budget, when the city manager asked for $500,000 (that’s half a million) added to the base budget by explaining that things just “trickle up” and have to be covered that fine tooth comb doesn’t do its job.

Big on providing services. Political enough to be on the winning side?

Ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward in the first office she had when elected in 2010.

Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward tried to cut that back to $300,000 the first year and then take a closer look in the second year. She got nowhere with that. Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison who usually knows where every nickel goes was at one point unaware that the $500,000 was going into the base budget – which means he gets that amount every year.

This kind of spending helps understand why Burlington has had tax increases in the 4% range for the past four years.

Most Councillors have a project in their ward they want to promote – it’s just good politics.
For ward 3 Councillor John Taylor – it is quite often something for Lowville.

This year he has his hand out for $30,000 to do a study on what can be done with the Lowville School House, a building that is structurally sound but doesn’t have a heat source or running water.

LOWVILLE SCHOOL HOUSEFor the past couple of years the city has had a working arrangement with Thinkspot, a Lowville based mini think tank that has developed a reputation for being the place to go for well-honed leadership in getting at just what the root of a problem is and then putting together a process for resolving the problem.

The locale is about as good as it gets – 15 minute drive from the city to a rural setting that is pleasant, relaxing and has a decent kitchen for putting together snacks. ThinkSpot often used the school house for larger groups and often for ThinkSpot sponsored community events.

The city decided some time ago that there was a better way to use the space and advised ThinkSpot that the working relationship that was in place was no more.

Lowville has a really robust group of people who keep a close eye on what city council does – it was Lowville residents who tipped off the Gazette about the land fill that was being dumped at the Air Park. They don’t miss much.

The bureaucrats want to be careful with what they take to the community – they have pretty high expectations.

Waterfront hotel Taylor

Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor doing what he does best – listening to people

Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor has this soft spot for Lowville. His ward includes much of rural Burlington. When he retires he just might find himself wanting to live in that community.

Operating budget - what you get

Foe a home assessed at $500,00 – find one of those in Burlington – the taxes are really close to $2,000. If that amount $18.66 will pay for city council; $70.56 will be used on roads and transportation. These numbers are based on the proposed operating budget.

The really hard look at the Operating budget will take place on January 18, starting at 9:30 a.m. – Committee of the Whole – Operating Budget review

Anyone who wants to delegate must register by noon on January 17.

The following Monday, January 22nd, city council will vote on the recommendation that comes out of the Standing Committee. That’s four days later – not much time for people to digest what came out of the Standing Committee and form argument for a change to the budget.

The Capital budget has already been set.

Capital budget 2018

The Capital budget – it has already been approved.

This is an example of the city claim that it really engages with its citizens. It is a part of the why there is now a citizen’s organization that believes things have to be different.

Every member of the current council was re-elected in 2014 and there doesn’t appear to be rush of bright stars on the horizon who want to challenge the incumbents. There are a couple.

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2 comments to Council to debate the 2018 Operating budget – $30,000 will be used to decide what to do with the Lowville school house.

  • Stephen White

    Things “trickle up” do they? Interesting! What kind of things?

    Yes…when departments and businesses prepare budgets they usually set aside a certain amount for Miscellaneous expenses. However, they also put a dollar cap on specific items that can be approved without recourse to going to a full Board for approval. As a taxpayer, I would dearly love to know how much of this $500K will actually be spent, and on what.

    Or does that kind of information not “trickle down” to taxpayers.

  • Hope

    I don’t think it was Lowville residents that notified the city re AirPark dumping. I believe that it was myself and other ajcent residents .