At the Nov. 4 City Council meeting, City Manager Marcus Serrano presented his proposed budget for 2016, his first, which calls for a 1.32% increase in the tax rate.
At the Nov. 4 City Council meeting, City Manager Marcus Serrano presented his proposed budget for 2016, his first, which calls for a 1.32% increase in the tax rate. For an average home in Rye, assessed around $1.4 million, this will mean an increase of approximately $50 a year.
As has been the practice in Rye since the Tax Cap was inaugurated three years ago, Serrano’s budget stays within the cap – just barely by approximately $24,000. Aside from property tax increases, the proposed budget assumes no increase in other revenues: mortgage and sales taxes, fees and fines.
Expenses increase by approximately $518,000. The two biggest increases are for health care: $207,000 for current employees, and $125,000 for retirees. There will be no increase in spending for the City’s various non-profit partners, notably The Rye Free Reading Room, Port Chester/Rye/Rye Brook EMS, and The Square House.
The proposed budget recommends using the Undesignated Fund Balance to pay for $1.5 million in capital projects. Among the projects are $1 million for street resurfacing, $400,00 for sewers and drains, $150,000 to prepare a master plan, and $100,000 for sidewalks.
The City Manager’s budget reflects several important trends. First, the City is drawing down its Unreserved Fund Balance to pay for capital and operating expenses – from a peak of approximately $6 million in 2013 to less than $4 million in 2015. As City Councilman Richard Slack and Mr. Serrano noted at the budget meeting, this is not a sustainable path.
Second, medical expenses both for current and retired employees continue to increase dramatically. There could be added pressure to address these rising costs in the contract negotiations with the City’s unions. The Police and DPW union contracts expire at the end of this year, and contract negotiations with the Fire Department Union still unresolved.