Niagara Gazette

December 12, 2013

Dyster budget vetoes up for vote Thursday

By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — City lawmakers will vote on vetoes to a number of cuts the council made to Mayor Paul Dyster’s proposed budget at a special meeting to be held this afternoon.

The city council will consider 13 vetoes to 46 amendments to the mayor’s budget adopted at a special meeting held before the legislative body’s regular meeting on Nov. 25.

The vetoes largely aim to restore and raise compensation levels for members of Dyster’s administration both through salary increases and stipends eliminated through the amendment process, putting over $200,000 back into the budget.

The special meeting is set for 4:30 p.m. in city council chambers.

Dyster is hoping he can convince the council to uphold the vetoes which need a super majority of a 4-1  vote to be overridden, he said.

The stipends range from $3,000 to $5,000 and are awarded to staffers he said have taken on extra responsibilities in recent years.

“We were not in a position in this year’s budget to upgrades and reclassifications across the board,” Dyster said.

One such stipend, set to bump City Assessor James Bird’s pay by $5,000 is actually paid for by the Town of Wilson. Bird provides oversight for its department in a shared services agreement with the town and the city would have to repay the town more than $72,000 if that agreement is broken.

Dyster also opposes cuts to overtime budgets for the fire department and department of code enforcement set forth by council amendments.

Councilman Robert Anderson Jr. said he had not reviewed the vetoes because he has a doctor’s appointment at the time of the special meeting, and so will not be in attendance.

“Why would I read them if I’m not going to be there?,” Anderson asked a Gazette reporter when reached by phone on Wednesday.

Choolokian said he would not vote in support of any of the vetoes, as he had voted in favor of all of the amendments the mayor is challenging.

“I’m not changing my vote,” he said.

Choolokian said he was not surprised by any of the amendments, being that they were included in Dyster’s proposed budget.

“I don’t think he would have put it in there if he didn’t want it,” he said.

Councilman Sam Fruscione, Councilman Charles Walker and Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Contact reporter Justin Sondel at 282-2311, ext. 2257