The Commissioner of Finance shall be chief fiscal officer of the City and shall have and exercise the powers conferred on that office by this Charter and the laws of the New York State and the United States, and such duties as the Council may prescribe by ordinance and local law.
A. Substitute for the Mayor. The Commissioner of Finance shall act in place of the Mayor in his or her absence or disability.
B. City Tax Collector. The Commissioner of Finance shall collect taxes, assessments, utility fees, and other monies due the City in accordance with Section 4.1 of this Charter.
C. Bursar of City Funds. The Commissioner of Finance shall disburse City funds only when appropriated by the Council and on the warrant, subject to pre-audit, of the Commissioner of Accounts.
D. Internal Auditor. The Commissioner of Finance shall conduct internal audits, as deemed necessary, of randomly selected City operations annually or on request of the Council. Such audits shall be presented in writing to the Council and forwarded to the City Clerk's office for public examination.
E. Custodian of City monies. The Commissioner of Finance shall designate bank accounts for the deposit of City monies and invest City funds in accordance with Section 4.2 of this Charter and the guidelines, rules, and regulations of the State Comptroller and applicable State laws.
F. Keeper of City financial records. The Commissioner of Finance shall maintain complete and accurate financial records in accordance with standards established by the Comptroller of the State of New York and Section 4.3 of this Charter.
G. Budget Chairperson. The Commissioner of Finance shall be Budget Chairperson for the Council and shall be responsible for preparation and administration of a comprehensive budget for the City in accordance with Section 4.4 of this Charter.
H. Certifier of City payrolls. The Commissioner of Finance shall certify City payrolls. The Commissioner of Finance may lawfully delegate the above-cited powers, duties, and responsibilities. The Commissioner shall ensure that employees of the Finance Department have appropriate skills, work experience, and education to perform professional quality work. The Commissioner of Finance shall have immediate responsibility for administering and operating the Finance Department and shall organize the Department to provide efficient, cost-effective services. All City departments shall provide the necessary data, assistance, and information required in the execution of these powers, duties, and responsibilities.
The Commissioner of Finance shall be responsible for collecting all taxes, levies, and assessments in the City. The Commissioner shall calculate the tax rate based on several valuations of properties described in this section of the Charter and in accordance with the laws of the State of New York.
Tax rates. On or before January 15 of each year, the Commissioner of Finance shall submit said tax rates to the County of Saratoga. The County will then process and deliver tax rolls to the Commissioner of Finance for collection.
Tax collection. On receipt of completed tax rolls, the Commissioner of Finance shall announce at a Council meeting receipt thereof, and that during the time and at a place specified the Commissioner will receive payment of taxes due.
County and City taxes for the several tax districts shall be due and payable, without penalty, each year as follows: first quarter on or before March 1; second quarter on or before June 1; third quarter on or before September 1; fourth quarter on or before December 1. All school taxes shall be assessed, levied, and collected in the manner provided for in Education Law, Real Property Tax Law and other statutes made and provided.
Levies, assessments, and charges for water and sewer and re-levied City utilities shall be due and payable on dates prescribed in various notices provided for in this section.
Tax penalties. County and City taxes for the several tax districts shall be paid by times set forth, and received without penalty. If paid within 30 days thereafter a penalty of 6% shall be imposed and added. Thereafter, an additional 1 1/2% per month up to a maximum of 15% per annum shall be imposed and added.
All water and sewer levies, assessments, and charges shall be paid by times set forth; such amounts so paid shall be received without penalty. If not paid on the due dates, a penalty of 6% shall be imposed. Any water and sewer levies, assessments, and charges unpaid after 90 days shall be added to the next quarterly assessments of water and sewer charges. Penalties of all outstanding balances shall be charged at the same percentage provided herein.
[Amended 5-20-2014 by L.L. No. 2-2014]
Discounts. A discount of 2 1/4% shall be allowed for the payment of the four quarterly current City and county taxes on or before March 1 in each year; no other discount shall be allowed.
Tax lien. The prior year's taxes, penalties, charges, and assessments, if remaining unpaid, will become a lien on October 1 or next business day. The Commissioner of Finance shall publish a notice of lien for properties that are in default of taxes and assessments of every name and nature for the year immediately preceding, including reassessed properties under the Real Property Tax Law of the State of New York. The notice shall contain a list of properties on which tax liens are to be levied, with the installments of taxes, assessments, charges, and penalties due thereon, computed to the day of the lien, and the estimated associated expenses. The notice shall state that on October 1, or the next business day (if said date should fall on Sunday or a legal holiday), the lien will be levied.
Publication of the notice of lien shall be made in the official newspaper of the City one day prior to the date of the lien and on the date of the lien. If there are two official newspapers of the City, the City may elect to place an advertisement in each newspaper.
Cancellation of tax liens. On direction of the Council, the Commissioner of Finance may cancel any tax lien for the amount thereon, including interest at 12% per annum.
Tax lien penalties. Tax liens referred to herein shall bear the interest rate of 1% per month up to a maximum of 12% per annum from the date thereof.
Redemption. Until the property is claimed through foreclosure proceeding by the City, the owner or mortgagee of any property on which a tax lien has been levied may redeem it at any time by paying the Commissioner of Finance the sum mentioned in the lien with 1% interest per month, up to a maximum of 12% per annum from the date of said lien.
Certificate and deed. If the property is not redeemed as heretofore provided, the Commissioner of Finance shall at the expiration of two years from the day of the lien have the right to begin In Rem foreclosure proceedings as provided for in the New York State Real Property Tax Law.
The Commissioner of Finance shall be the custodian of City monies.
Finance Policy and Procedures Manual. The Commissioner of Finance shall be responsible for promulgating a Finance Policy and Procedures Manual for use by City departments, entities, and operations. The Manual shall standardize procedures and forms and establish regulations and guidance regarding timely reporting and depositing of City monies, creation and use of petty cash funds, and other matters the Commissioner shall deem appropriate in regard to safeguarding and handling City monies. The Finance Policy and Procedures Manual and any revisions thereto shall be submitted to the Council for approval and modification and shall go into effect on approval by the Council or 90 days after its submission if not acted upon by the Council. The Manual shall be regularly revised and updated.
Banking service. The Commissioner of Finance shall develop a request for proposals (RFP) for City banking requirements and shall solicit proposals and select a vendor, with concurrence of the Council, that best meets the needs of the City at the most reasonable cost.
Deposit of City monies. The Commissioner of Finance shall deposit City funds in banking and trust institutions selected subject to the laws of the State of New York and the United States. Such depositories shall secure said deposits by furnishing a satisfactory corporate surety bond or by pledging with the City approved bonds or securities therefor, for which the Commissioner of Finance shall be given the receipt.
Other City departments and entities receiving monies in their official capacity shall deposit such monies in accounts in banks and trust companies designated by the Commissioner of Finance, in accordance with procedures established in the Financial Policy and Procedures Manual.
Investment of City monies. The Commissioner of Finance shall prepare an investment policy in accordance with Chapter 708, § 39 of the General Municipal Law. The policy shall be adopted or modified annually by the Council resolution. The policy shall detail the City's operative policy and instructions regarding investing, monitoring, and reporting of City funds. The policy shall specify the following:
List of authorized investments.
Procedures to ensure the City's financial interest in investments.
Standards for written agreements consistent with legal requirements.
Procedures for monitoring, control, deposit, and retention of investments and collateral.
Standards for security agreements and custodial agreements consistent with legal requirements.
Standards for diversification of investments including types of investments and firms with which the City transacts business.
Standards for qualification of investment agents with whom the City transacts business.
The Commissioner of Finance shall be the keeper of City financial records and shall make them available for inspection.
Accounting systems. The Commissioner of Finance shall maintain and supervise the general accounting system for the City government and each of its offices, departments, and entities in accordance with the uniform system of accounts prescribed by the State Comptroller. The Commissioner shall keep books for and, together with the Council, exercise financial budgetary control over each office, department, and entity.
Payments. No demand against the City for money shall be paid unless appropriated by the Council, verified by a City official or employee, audited by the Commissioner of Accounts, and approved by the Commissioner of Finance.
Annual audit. The City shall have a financial statement and single audit conducted annually by an independent auditing firm. The Commissioner of Finance shall solicit proposals from accounting firms on the basis of scope of services approved by the Council, which shall award the contract on the basis of best services offered at most reasonable cost. The Commissioner or the Commissioner's designee shall coordinate the annual audit, which shall be made available to the public not later than five business days after issuance by the independent auditors, and not later than the first public hearing on the upcoming budget. The annual audit shall be accompanied by a management letter, and the Commissioner of Finance or the Commissioner's designee shall coordinate a response, which shall be made available for public review not later than 45 business days after the issuance of the letter.
The Commissioner of Finance shall be responsible for preparing and administering a comprehensive City Budget. The budget shall comprise an Operations Budget, a Capital Budget, and a Debt Service Budget. The City Budget shall include all revenues, grants, and payments to the City for any program purpose and shall also include any off-budget monies (federal, state matching funds, etc.), enterprise funds, or contracted operations and programs. No such monies shall be spent unless appropriated by the Council to the budget of the department or entity requesting such funds.
The fiscal year. The City's fiscal year shall begin on the first date of January and end on the last day of December.
Budget preparation. The Commissioner of Finance shall oversee all meetings relating to the preparation, completion, and adoption of the City Budget according to the timeline set forth herein and summarized in Appendix A.
The Commissioner of Finance shall, on or before August 1 of each year, send a call letter out to all City departments and entities establishing budget parameters for the upcoming year. The call letter shall solicit the Mayor, Commissioners, and all City entities for their budget requests for the ensuing year, which shall be submitted on forms and in a format provided by the Commissioner of Finance. Every proposed budget or amendment thereto submitted by any agency, board, commission, or other entity of the City of Saratoga Springs shall be submitted in accordance with the provisions of this section of the Charter.
Departmental budget requests shall be submitted to the Commissioner of Finance on or before September 15. Each budget request shall contain a detailed, itemized estimate of the amount of expenditures required by their respective departments for the ensuing year. The Commissioner of Finance shall collate and put in order all such requests. The Commissioner of Finance shall transmit copies of each department's requests to the Council, as they are received, for their information and comment.
The Commissioner of Finance shall provide a detailed estimate of the amount of income from all sources, exclusive of taxes, and a detailed estimate of the amount of tax required to be levied to defray all expenses and liabilities of each City department or entities for the ensuing fiscal year.
The Commissioner of Finance, as Budget Chairperson, shall forward copies of department requests to the Council with whatever information and analysis the Chairperson considers relevant to understanding each budget request. The Budget Chairperson shall consult and exchange views and information with the Mayor and the Council about department budget requests.
Editor's Note: Appendix A is included at the end of this Charter.
Budget submission. As Budget Chairperson, the Commissioner of Finance shall, on completion of consultation with Council members, prepare a proposed Comprehensive Budget and shall submit it to the Council at the first regularly scheduled meeting of the Council in October each year.
Budget content. The proposed Comprehensive Budget submitted to the Council by the Commissioner of Finance shall contain:
Budget message. The Commissioner of Finance shall prepare a budget message in writing that shall explain the proposed budget both fiscally and programmatically. The message shall outline proposed financial policies of the City for the ensuing fiscal year, describe important features of the budget, indicate any major changes from the current year's budget to the proposed budget in finances, expenditures, and revenues, together with reasons for such changes, summarize the City debt position, and include other material the Budget Chairperson deems appropriate.
Financial plan. The budget shall be accompanied by a preliminary financial plan to include all income and expenditures of all City funds and activities projected monthly for the fiscal year.
Standardized format. The budget shall use the most feasible combination of expenditure classifications by funds, organization unit, program, purpose, or activity and object.
Each unit and program narrative shall begin with a clear general summary of its contents and shall show in detail all estimated income, including the proposed tax levy, and all proposed expenditures, including debt service, for the ensuing fiscal year. It shall be arranged to show comparative figures for estimated income and expenditures of the current fiscal year and actual income and expenditures of the preceding fiscal year.
Comprehensive Budget. The Comprehensive Budget shall include the following:
Operations Budget: proposed expenditures for current operations during the ensuing fiscal year, detailed by offices, departments, and agencies in terms of their respective work programs, and the method of financing such expenditures.
Capital Budget: proposed capital projects recommended by the Capital Program Committee for the ensuing fiscal year, detailed by purpose, offices, departments, and agencies, and the proposed method of financing each. Equipment expenditures shall be itemized individually in the adopted budget and listed under the department and program for which they are to be purchased for the ensuing budget year. No equipment may be purchased during the course of the fiscal year that has not been included on said itemized lists.
Debt Service Budget: complete, comprehensive accounting of the total debt for which the City had any direct or indirect obligation. The budget shall itemize any new debt issuance planned for the ensuing fiscal year and shall list all outstanding debt obligations of the City, the credit rating of those instruments, the current status of the City debt load, and remaining debt capacity.
Subsidiary budgets: each utility or entity owned or operated by the City shall provide detailed income and expenditure information appended to the budget.
Public notice and hearings. Upon receipt of the proposed budget from the Commissioner of Finance, the Council shall publish in the official City newspaper or newspapers a summary of the budget and a notice stating:
Times and places where copies of the budget message and Comprehensive Budget are available for inspection by the public.
Time and place, not less than one week after such publication, for at least two public hearings on the proposed budgets, the first of which shall be held on or before November 1. The summary and notice shall be placed on file at the City Clerk's office to be available for public review.
Budget adoption. In the period from November 1 through November 30, the Council shall continue to adjust the proposed budget and shall hold the second public hearing after all adjustments have been made and agreed on. After public hearings, the Council may adopt the budget, with or without amendment, by resolution. In amending the budget, the Council may add or increase programs or amounts, and may delete or decrease programs or amounts, except expenditures required by law, judgments against the City, or for debt service.
The Council shall adopt the budget on or before November 30 each year. The total of proposed expenditures shall not exceed the total of estimated income in the budget adopted by the Council. In the event that the Council fails to adopt a budget by said date, the proposed Comprehensive Budget presented to the Council by the Commissioner of Finance shall become the budget for the ensuing fiscal year. Adoption of the budget shall constitute appropriations of the amounts specified therein as expenditures from funds indicated. The property tax therein proposed shall constitute the levy. On adoption of the budget, the Commissioner of Finance shall amend the financial plan to reflect actions of the Council.
Budget Administration. On or before December 31 each year, the Commissioner of Finance shall prepare the financial plan that shall project expenditures and income, month-by-month, for the entire fiscal year. The Commissioner of Finance shall provide a comparison of expenditures and income to the actual prior fiscal year. Copies of the aforementioned report shall be available to the public for review at the City Clerk's office during normal business hours. The Commissioner of Finance shall be responsible for administration of the City Budget to ensure, to the extent feasible, that the budget remains balanced throughout the fiscal year.
Maintaining a balanced budget. If at any time during the fiscal year it appears probable to the Commissioner of Finance that revenues available will be insufficient to meet the amount appropriated, the Commissioner shall report this to the Council without delay. The Commissioner shall indicate the estimated shortfall, the remedial action taken by the Commissioner, and the Commissioner's recommendations for steps to be taken to eliminate or reduce the shortfall. The Council shall take such further action it deems necessary to prevent or minimize any deficit, and for that purpose may by resolution reduce one or more appropriation as allowed by law.
Quarterly financial reports. The Commissioner of Finance shall submit to the Council, for each quarter, a written financial report on the status of the City's financial plan. Such financial plan shall include a comparison of estimated and actual income and expenditures to date and shall be submitted within 45 days after the end of each quarter. Each quarterly summary shall be forwarded to the City Clerk's office and shall be available for public review.
Budget amendments. If during the fiscal year the Commissioner of Finance certifies to the Council that there are available for appropriations revenues in excess of those estimated in the budget, the Council may make supplemental appropriations for the year, by resolution in an open public meeting and with written justification regarding the requested supplemental appropriation, up to the amount of monies the Commissioner of Finance certifies available.
Emergency appropriations. To meet a public emergency affecting health, property, or public safety, the Council may make emergency appropriations by unanimous action. If there are no available unappropriated revenues to meet such emergency, the Council may, by emergency ordinance, authorize issuance of emergency notes that may be renewed from time to time. Emergency notes and renewals of any fiscal year shall not be paid later than the last day of the fiscal year succeeding that in which emergency appropriation was made.
It shall be lawful for the Council, on occurrence of emergency and on declaration of emergency by resolution of the Council, to appropriate from unexpended funds not otherwise designated for specific purposes by law sufficient funds for the payment of expenses created by such emergency.
Transfers of monies. Budget transfers of monies shall require certification of availability by the Commissioner of Finance. Those transfer requests that exceed 10% of the amount of a budget line item appropriation shall be accompanied by written explanation. Transfers for purposes of implementing contract agreements regarding personal services shall be permitted, notwithstanding the ten-percent limitation, on approval by the Council. The Council shall approve no transfer of monies from or to an account for payroll or employee benefits unless such transfer has been submitted and approved separately from other transfers. Transfer requests shall be submitted by the close of business on Thursday before the next Council meeting. Those received afterwards will be reserved for the following meeting unless there is an emergency certified in writing by the Council member making the request. Transfer requests requiring Council approval will be distributed prior to the meeting for review by the Council.
Payments prohibited. It shall not be lawful for any City employee to incur or contract any expense or liability for or on behalf of the City, unless the Council has made an appropriation concerning such expenses. No payment shall be made or obligation incurred against any allotment or appropriation except and unless the Commissioner of Finance first certifies that sufficient funds are or will be available to cover the claim or meet the obligation when it becomes due and payable. Any authorization of payment or incurring of obligation in violation of the provisions of the Charter shall be void.
Nothing contained herein shall prevent the City from providing from sums made available for such purposes, pursuant to the Local Finance Law, for payment of any expense necessitated by casualty, accident, or unforeseen contingency arising after the budget is passed, provided that provisions of this section shall not apply to or limit authority conferred pursuant to Local Finance Law for monies to be collected by special assessments for local improvements.