Week ahead: Council vote on school budget, Lej vote on Dem funding and Northampton Park

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Last month, the Rochester school board approved a $728 million school-district budget for the 2013-2014 school year. Now it’s City Council’s turn to scrutinize the plan. Council will begin that process with a public hearing on Wednesday, June 12, and will vote on it on Tuesday, June 18.

The city gives the school district about $119 million annually, and Councilmembers typically ask school officials about how that money will be spent and raise other questions they may have about the district’s spending plan.

The public hearing on the budget begins at 3 p.m. The public can make comments starting at 5:30 p.m., and there is no requirement to sign up to speak in advance. The hearing will be held at City Hall, City Council Chambers, at 30 Church Street. The hearing is also streamed live at www.cityofrochester.gov, and telecast on Channel 12 through Time Warner Cable. — Tim Louis Macaluso

When the County Legislature meets on Tuesday, it’ll take up two controversial measures. One would cut funding for the Democratic minority’s office; the other would turn part of Northampton Park into fairgrounds.

The Legislature will meet at 6 p.m. in the County Office Building, 39 West Main Street.

Republican Majority Leader Steve Tucciarello introduced the funding proposal. In this year’s budget, funding for the Republican and Democratic legislative offices is based on the results of the 2011 elections. Tucciarello’s legislation calls for the funding to be adjusted every January, though it would impose a mid-year cut on the Dems’ budget this year. Because they lost a seat in a November special election, the Dems stand to lose about $16,000 from their $170,000 budget.

During a committee meeting last month, Republican Legislator Jeff McCann said the change was important because of off-year elections this year and potential off-year elections next year. But Democrats say the move is political retribution, pure and simple.

Odds are that the Republicans will push through the Northampton Park proposal, though Democrats say they’ll move to table it for further review. [UPDATE: The county has released an environmental statement for the proposal and it's available here.]

Under the legislation, the county would enter into a contract with the Monroe County Fair and Recreation Association to produce an “agricultural festival” at Northampton Park. As part of the contract, the association would construct several lodges, a riding horse arena, a tractor pull area, and sewer system improvements. The association would donate the infrastructure — which has a $500,000 estimated value — to the county, according to the legislation.

The fair association and its supporters say they want to return the agricultural focus to the fair. Rather than the carnival atmosphere of recent fairs, they say, they want a place for youths to show their animals and educate their peers about agriculture.

Park neighbors, however, are furious about the proposal. They voiced their opposition during a public meeting last week, organized by Legislature Democrats. Several speakers said that they had just learned about the proposal, which they called a backroom deal. They also said that while this year’s plans may call for a small agricultural fair they fear it’ll grow to resemble recent county fairs.

One neighbor said he’d already retained a lawyer to fight the plan. — Jeremy Moule

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