Council Lowers Proposed 2023 Tax Increase to 4.13%
At its November 30 meeting, the City Council took up a new proposal from City Manager Greg Usry and Comptroller Joe Fazzino, who had earlier proposed a $44.3 million budget requiring a 5.24% tax increase. In his introductory remarks, Mayor Josh Cohn said that the budget process, including workshops and reviews with all City departments, focuses on finding ways to reduce costs, noting that the Council’s constituents are already feeling the pain of inflation.
In a letter to the Council dated the same day, Usry and Fazzino mapped out adjustments to their original presentation. They began by stating that new information regarding Sales Tax and Interest Income allows for an increased revenue projection of $250,000. Next, however, they reported that Health Insurance costs will rise by $255,000. And lastly, they recommended decreases in spending for Consultants, Salaries and Benefits, Building Improvements, and Material & Supplies by $168,000.
They also reminded the Council that the proposed tax increase was made up of the following components: a 3.24% Base Operating Tax Increase, an .89% increase for Road Resurfacing ($250,000), and .89% ($250,000) for Flood Mitigation. If the Council, Usry explained, chose to reduce or eliminate one or both projects, the City could use other sources – fund balances and grants – in 2023 and still keep to its goal of spending $1 million on Road Resurfacing.
Councilmember Josh Nathan wondered if various reductions would have a negative impact on services, and what would happen if the City did not impose a tax increase above the cap? Usry said that services would not suffer under the new proposal, but if the City did not increase taxes, there would need to be a headcount reduction.
Councilmember Julie Souza, sensing a possible opportunity to lower the tax increase to under 4%, wondered if, in addition to eliminating the street repair increase they should consider reducing the flood mitigation increase.
For now, the Council passed a resolution adopting the recommendation to eliminate the specific increase for Street Resurfacing, and the proposed tax increase stood at 4.13%, which is still over the cap. The public is encouraged to attend, or tune in, to the December 7 Council meeting for the final public hearing on the 2023 City Budget. A search for further reductions will continue before the Council adopts a new Budget at its December 21 meeting.
- Tom McDermott