Executive Fiala to File Lawsuit Against County Legislature for Budget Increases

(Binghamton, NY)Broome County Executive Barbara J. Fiala will file a lawsuit challenging the decision of the Legislature to increase the County’s 2010 budget beyond what the Executive proposed in her 2010 tentative spending plan.  The actions passed by the Legislature during session Monday evening increased budget appropriations and added a position.

Powers set forth in the Broome County Charter state that the County Executive shall present the annual budget to the legislature for its review.  It goes on to say that during the review process, the Legislature may reduce individual revenue and appropriation items. The Charter, however, does not give the legislature the power to increase items in the budget.
Responding to the Legislature’s action to increase the 2010 county budget, Executive Fiala stated, “I agree that the overall amounts added by the Legislature to the 2010 budget are not large. However, this legal action is necessary to establish the powers of the Executive and Legislative branches of government. My administration looks at the budget from the perspective of all of the taxpayers in Broome County. As the administration continues to address financial deficits by proposing further reductions in positions and services, it is necessary for us to distinguish whether the Legislature has the power to ignore cuts established by the County Executive’s Office.”
The dispute over powers under the Broome County Charter has been a point of contention between the Executive and the Legislature for decades.  During these difficult economic times and heightened budgetary debate, the lawsuit aims to clarify the powers of the Executive and of the Legislature. A court ruling will provide a formal interpretation of the Charter.
Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala acknowledges that some inconveniences and hard feelings may be stirred between the Executive and Legislative branches as a result of the lawsuit. However, Executive Fiala believes those short term feelings will be outweighed by long term benefits.  “If the Court agrees with my interpretation, all taxpayers can be confident that budget cuts made by the administration will survive.  The short term discomfort will be forgotten,” said Fiala.
If the Court rules in favor of the Legislature, their actions to increase the budget will be justified and the Legislature will have the power to increase revenues and appropriations going forward.  Bottom line, the issue will be put to rest, once and for all.


11/24/2009 - 3:51pm