For the second year in a row, the Lackawanna City Council overrode Mayor Geoffrey M. Szymanski’s vetoes and approved a budget with fewer city expenses than what the mayor had proposed.
Council members voted 5-0 during a special meeting on Thursday in favor of a $23.9 million spending plan that will cut residential taxes by less than 1 percent and reduce commercial property taxes by about 12 percent.
The legislators spent less than 30 minutes tweaking their original proposed budget and ultimately added about $63,000 in spending.
The biggest change was the restoration of a city code enforcement officer – a post that pays $48,019.
The Council cut the union position in its original budget, a move that Szymanski said would have violated a no-layoff clause in the employee’s union contract.
Council President Henry R. Pirowski Jr. said he didn’t want to put the city at risk of a protracted legal battle by cutting the position.
“We’re not going to waste the city’s money on a grievance,” he said. “I do not believe we should be hamstrung by this, but we are.”
The Council balanced the dollar amount by cutting $48,000 from the $68,000 it had originally set aside for demolitions. Just $20,000 is now allotted for demolitions, although some members pointed out that the city will continue to pursue demolitions through its capital projects budget.
Council members also added $50,000 for police differential time, saying the line wasn’t properly accounted for in its earlier proposal.
Szymanski’s proposed 2013-14 budget called for spending $24.48 million – or nearly $900,000 more than the budget that was adopted in 2012.
The mayor wanted to add a clerk-typist in the city’s purchasing office, allot more money for overtime in the police and fire departments and hire a temporary consultant to train a new commissioner of public works.
The Council shot down all of those proposals, while also eliminating a clerk position in the city recreation department.
The city’s fiscal year runs Aug. 1 to July 31.