UTICA, N. Y.-- The finance committee for the Utica Common Council met with the last of the city's department heads Tuesday night.
The committee's goal for each hearing is to get an accurate assessment of the wants and needs from each department's budget request, submitted in the fall.
Tuesday night's meeting involved two of the city's most expensive departments: police and public works.
"My trifecta is manpower, salt and equipment," Dave Short, Utica's DPW Commissioner said. "If any one of those three in my department is lacking, I have a hard time doing my job."
The first two portions of Short's described necessities are covered by the operational budget, which he said is relatively untouched by the council. The third portion involves more campaigning by the DPW.
"Most of my needs and wants are usually based out of my capital plan," Short said. "That involves equipment, trucks. We are replacing older equipment with newer equipment. That may be a new mower for the parks department to replace an old mower, or to replace an old snowplow truck with a new snowplow truck. So far in this administration, we've been very, very proactive in replacing equipment and it's gone a long way. So, I'm hoping to continue that this year."
Even with the mild winter, Short said unexpected shifts in the weather require more resources to keep roadways safe.
"You never know what Mother Nature is going to do," Short said. "You saw that last year with winter storm Stella. The Department of Public Works, if they're not operating at peak capacity, every other department suffers."
The police department faces a similar situation; their operational budget is more or less set, but their equipment requests need the council's stamp of approval.
"It isn't necessarily about the 90% of the stuff that's given for contractual items, it's the other 10% that we need to be able to run our department," said UPD Chief Mark Williams. 'We have cars in our fleet right now that are being used on a regular basis, that have well over a hundred thousand miles, so they need to be replaced. It makes no sense to have highly trained police officers and not be able to give them the equipment they need to do their job."