City prepares 2024 budget

Upgrade for staff in lieu of PR firm

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 10/6/23

The City of Newburgh has held six budget workshops over the last few weeks of September in preparation for the 2024 budget presentation to the public and final approval in late fall. All of the …

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City prepares 2024 budget

Upgrade for staff in lieu of PR firm


The City of Newburgh has held six budget workshops over the last few weeks of September in preparation for the 2024 budget presentation to the public and final approval in late fall. All of the budget sessions for the city are currently available on the city website to be watched.

In the previous year, 2022, in late November, the city adopted their budget with a general fund amount adopted at $63.8 million. This saw an increase from the 2022 budget, and the real property tax last year was adopted at $23.6 million for the city.

The most recent budget work session, September 28, reviewed the budgets for the executive office, the city council, the city comptroller and the information systems department. Within the executive office, this includes City Manager Todd Venning, a chief of staff person, an administrative assistant and a human resources director. The city manager is appointed by the city council and is responsible for the day to day operations of the city subject to the city council. Venning reported to the council two personnel changes that would see the chief of staff go from a grade 5 to a grade 7 that would be in line with the other deputies in the city which include the Department of Public Works and Water Department.

“The press firm that we included in this year’s budget, largely at the request of the mayor and Councilman [Anthony] Grice to address some of the press concerns, I’ve received feedback some of the board might prefer to see that as a press person in the office as opposed to the press firm,” said Venning. “I think we’ve tried the firm route this year. It’s my understanding that everyone is not thrilled with the firm.”

For reference, this proposed position would cost the same amount of money or less than that of the firm. This position would include benefits for the person if the position is filled. In non-personal expenses, an item that council requested for the upcoming budget was an electric vehicle charging station which $25,000 was appropriated into the manager’s budget. The request will either fall under the executive office or the planning department.

Another notable allocation was the amount of $275,000, requested to be rolled into next year by the city manager, was supposed to be used in 2023 for an alternatives analysis as part of the potential move for city departments such as fire, the police and city hall into different buildings such as 123 Grand Street and 141 Broadway.

The City of Newburgh Police Department, represented by Police Commissioner José Gomérez and Police Chief Anthony Geraci, appeared on September 18 with their department requests. Gomérez began with several personnel requests from city council heading into 2024, such as to make a deputy police chief position full-time instead of part-time, a salary increase for dispatchers and a senior dispatcher position, a traffic enforcement unit and add an additional officer to follow-up with domestic violence investigations.

Chief Geraci discussed operating expenses, most notably a request for a SWAT (special weapons and tactics) team for the city with a $10,000 request for equipment and funding for a vehicle for the team, bringing the cost to $110,000. Prior to the two police leaders’ tenure, a SWAT team was in place but was disbanded.

“Currently we rely on either the state police or the county sheriff [for a swat team],” he said.

Community members had appeared before the city council at their September 25 meeting to express their concerns over a SWAT Team here in the city. Funds were discussed to be used for other city priorities.

Geraci also noted a request to terminate the contract with ShotSpotter and to reallocate money for more cameras as part of a comprehensive surveillance program. ShotSpotter is a camera system that notifies police departments of potential gun fire in their coverage areas.

For the City of Newburgh Fire Department, Chief Francis Spinelli said a ladder track is expected to be here in Mid-October, two new fire engines are currently in service and five probationary firefighters have been hired to fill vacancies as a result of department retirement. Four firefighters, a lieutenant, a floating lieutenant and an assistant chief of training are the requests from the fire department for 2024 from the personnel section of the budget.

City Recreation Director Matthew Nordt requested on September 27 for as part of his personnel section, a third full-time recreation coordinator, another full-time park laborer and a full-time working supervisor to be added to his staff. Additional requests were to hire park attendants and increase salaries to be in line with other organizations in the county and area. The city currently anticipates the construction and completion of the new aquatic center at Delano-Hitch Park.