January 20, 2022

Cortland approves $22.6M budget

The Cortland Common Council approved a $22.6 million budget for 2022 on Tuesday after rejecting a raise for the mayor from $25,000 to $30,000 but doubling the salary of council members to $10,000 each.

The budget, approved 8-0, increased by 5.4% from this year’s $21.4 million.

Counciperson Kathryn Silliman (D-2nd Ward) suggested that minimum standards be created if the salaries of council members were to be raised and she opposed the pay increases in the budget. The subsequent discussion led to the proposals to eliminate the planned raises for council members and the mayor.

“We have had council members who for various reasons … just quit showing up,” Silliman said.

Mayor Brian Tobin, who is leaving office after the end of the year, said the council can establish rules and guidelines for its members. Siliman said an effort to do that was shot down in the past.

Councilperson Bruce Tytler (D-3rd Ward), who ran unsuccessfully for mayor, said he opposed raising the mayor’s salary to $30,000.

Councilperson Tom Michales (R-8th Ward) said he spoke with mayor-elect Scott Steve about the issue.

“It will be a working council,” he said, with members getting assigned projects. “You will be earning the $10,000.”

Councilperson John Bennett Jr. (D-4th Ward) objected to that characterization.

“The common council does not work for the mayor, we work for the people,” Bennett said.

Silliman said the next mayor should earn a raise, first.

“Let’s see what he can do with the position before he gets a $5,000 signing bonus,” she said.

The proposal to cut the mayor’s salary back to $25,000 passed, 5-2 vote, while the proposal to reduce the pay for each council person to $5,000 failed, 2-5, with Silliman and Jacklyn Chapman (D-5th W voting in favor.

“We do a lot of work,and it is deserved,” said Councilperson William Carpenter (D-6th Ward).

The council also OK’d a fee (35.2 cents per foot) for all properties along city streets to pay for storm water system preservation, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation and construction. All property owners, including nonprofits and other governments, including the city school district and SUNY Cortland, would pay.