Niagara Gazette — Seth Piccirillo, the director of the city’s Community Development department, is urging city lawmakers to submit proposed amendments to his budget quickly.
Piccirillo, who had received proposed revisions to his department’s budget outline only from Councilman Charles Walker, asked the council to submit any of their proposed budget amendments at Monday’s council meeting so that his department could put the proposed budget out for a week of public comment before a final council vote on the spending plan.
“If there are any further council revisions to that budget we’d like to discuss them now to allow for proper public comment,” Piccirillo said.
Councilman Sam Fruscione then accused Piccirillo of trying to force council members to discuss their revisions publicly while Walker was able to meet with Community Development staff behind closed doors.
“Were the other amendments to the budget done publicly too?” Fruscione said to Piccirillo.
Piccirillo submitted a series of email invitations to all council members to meet and discuss the Community Development budget beginning in May.
The message included a schedule for public meetings where input would be solicited from citizens in an effort to shape the budget, part of a plan that Piccirillo argues makes for a more transparent process.
The original draft of the $2.2 million Community Development Block Grant budget — funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — was submitted to all council members at the end of July.
Piccirillo was denied a request to present on the proposed budget at the Sept. 3 council meeting, where the item was tabled.
Council Chief of Staff Kevin Ormsby responded to Piccirillo’s email request, saying Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian told him that Choolokian was “unable to fit” the presentation on the agenda.
There were no presentations scheduled for that meeting.
Piccirillo has since sent multiple emails to council members reminding them of his offer to meet and discuss the budget.