CHATHAM—The village clerk issued a notice late Friday afternoon that the Village Board would hold “an emergency budget meeting” Monday, May 17, at 4 p.m. at the Tracy Memorial.
Village Trustee Lael Locke said Sunday that she had been notified that the meeting was a workshop session for the board to work on the budget. She said it is a public meeting but that it intended to be “for us,” the board members, and not to seek input from the public.
The board faced budget protests from unusually large crowds at two meetings last week, with speakers critical of proposed spending increases. The increase was set at more than 12% when the board convened a public hearing on the budget Tuesday, May 11. The board met again Thursday, May 13, and proposed an increase of 8%, which also sparked critical comments from town residents and business owners, who said the increase was still too high. One woman said she an increase in village taxes would force her to leave her home on Church Street.
The concerns most frequently expressed at the meeting involved the cost and performance of the village Police Department. In response, Mayor Paul Boehme suggested critics of the department attend village court, presumably to see the types of crime local police officers face.
Near the end of Thursday’s meeting Mayor Boehme indicated that the board would revisit spending proposal and would vote on the budget at the next scheduled meeting, May 27. The state calls for villages to adopt their budgets by May 1, but board members said Thursday that they had received no communication from the state concerning the tardy budget nor had they received notice of any sanctions.
The mayor did say that the village would need to have a budget in place by the end of the month, because the fiscal year for the village begins June 1.
Ms. Locke said Sunday that Village Clerk Carol Simmons had contacted NYCOM, the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials, and reportedly learned from an official of that organization that the village is out of compliance with state law, because Chatham has not yet adopted a budget.