The Cortland Common Council held the first of two meetings in December last night (December 4).
As expected, the Council passed the City’s General Fund budget for next year, which includes a 3.4% increase in city taxes. The Mayor’s office says this is largely a result of lost sales tax revenue at the County level. Next year’s general purpose tax levy for the City will be just over $8.8 million.
There was a bit of controversy during the public hearing that began the night. The topic of discussion was the city’s permit system for rental properties, specifically proposed changes to language regarding the amount of occupants allowed within a rental property.
Cortland landowner Jerry Ruggiero was one of the speakers who addressed the council. He’s been fighting the rental law in court since 2010 and said last night that courts have ruled it “unconstitutionally void for vagueness.” He also claimed the City would face more lawsuits if it continues the law as it is written.
On a brighter note, Downtown Cortland is finally expected to get a little holiday face lift.
The Council voted last night to go with decorative holiday wreaths this year that will be put up along the light poles on Main Street. The Cortland Department of Public Works is expected to put them up in the coming days.
Madison Street Bridge
Another highlight is the fact that work on Cortland’s Madison Street bridge may soon be complete. The Department of Public Works announced last night that despite recent weather setbacks, the bridge could be open in about a week. They’re waiting for some slightly warmer weather to finish paving the road and sidewalks.
Water Main Project
There was also a major announcement last night from the City regarding a major infrastructure project in Cortland: the replacement of the City’s water main beneath Clinton Avenue. The City accepted a state grant worth more than $755,000 grant, which also includes a hardship loan of more $1.25 million.
The City’s Administration and finance department now says it has about $21 million combined “on the table,” up against a project cost of around $17 million.
The City Department of Public Works made a decision similar to the County Highway Department’s last week, transferring $85,000 from its assigned snow removal reserve to fund the rest of this year. An early start to winter has forced many municipalities to jump-start their snow removal programs.