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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 15, 2009

In wake of complaints
Runion schedules two budget workshops

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — After receiving complaints from Republican councilmen Warren Redlich and Mark Grimm about the lack of shared information during this year’s budget process –‑ a subject The Enterprise editorialized on last week — Democratic Supervisor Kenneth Runion announced this week that he had scheduled two special budget workshops, for Oct. 26 and Oct. 29.

Runion told The Enterprise this week that he had been planning to hold the budget workshops all along, but was waiting for the board members to request them.

“It was my intention to hold workshops, but it was my impression that Redlich preferred to hold the Oct. 5 special budget meeting, which he asked for,” said Runion. He said that, despite the meeting at the beginning of the month, he felt there was still enough confusion to warrant holding additional workshops.

Redlich, however, said he found it troubling that Runion was scheduling the workshops just weeks before the election. Runion, the Democratic incumbent, is being challenged by Peter Golden on the Republican line. (See related profiles).

The workshops, which will be open to the public, will require the department heads to appear before the board to answer questions about their budget requests. Runion said the town code made it optional for department heads to come before the board, but that he was making it mandatory this year.

“If board members have a problem, and want to know the details, they can ask the department heads themselves,” said Runion.

“In January 2008, I proposed having the department heads come in to speak to the board, and the supervisor voted down the idea. What’s changed?” Redlich wanted to know.

According to Runion, there is not much about the preliminary $30 million budget for 2010 that will generate a lot of discussion.

“There are no special projects built in, and the department heads have not asked for extraordinary items or big raises,” Runion said. “Probably 80 percent of it is just items that deal with union contracts, salaries, and benefits that we can’t escape or change, one way or the other.”

Redlich is not convinced. “What is there to reassure the voters that this isn’t an election ploy, and that the process will remain open in the future?” he asked.

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