Proposed 2021 City Budget Calls for 4.2 Percent Tax Hike
By Tom McDermott
At the November 4 City Council meeting, City Manager Greg Usry presented a proposed budget for next year of $40,585,302, a reduction of about $2,000,000, or 4.9% from 2020. The budget assumes a property tax levy of $26,516,114 and a tax rate of $187.60 per $1,000 assessed valuation. The proposal includes a tax rate increase of 4.19%, which is within the tax cap calculation. The 2020 tax rate increase was 1.87%.
General Fund revenues are expected to be $12,864,088.
Usry characterized the budget process as “less than perfect”, due to 2020 being such a disruptive year and past financial history being less useful in predicting future revenues and expenses.
Comptroller Joe Fazzino stated that major changes to non-property tax revenues would include an increase of $200,000 in the sales and use tax, with decreases of $241,000 in state aid, $200,000 in interest income, and $143,000 in parking meter revenue. Overall, non-property tax revenues will be down by $476,000 in 2021.
In 2020, Recreation was the hardest hit department, with many programs cancelled, including summer camp. Fazzino forecasts Recreation revenues to recover by 36% in 2021.
On the expense side, salaries will increase by $643,933, as the City expects to have 160 employees in 2021 versus 144 in 2020 when many positions were left unfilled; NYS Police and Fire Retirement costs will rise by $424,000. Fazzino said that the City will benefit from the retirement of some debt during 2020, a gain of $706,000, about half of which will be applied to the Capital Reserve Fund.
Salaries and benefits comprise 68% of 2021 expenses. Capital projects proposed for 2021 include $1.65 million for street resurfacing.
Public Budget Workshops will be held, via Zoom, on November 17 and 23 at 7:30 p.m.