October 12, 2013
City to present ’14 budget Tuesday
Officials mum on numbers ahead of next week’s council meeting
The city plans to unveil its preliminary 2014 budget at the Common Council’s Tuesday meeting. Aldermen received their copy of the proposed budget on Friday.
Mayor Brian Tobin said the process of putting together a budget has been more challenging, given the economic climate.
“It’s difficult, as every year has become,” Tobin said.
City Director of Administration and Finance Mack Cook declined to provide specific spending figures for the 2014 budget proposal.
The current year’s city budget is $24.1 million and represented a 0.9 percent tax levy increase over the previous year. The tax levy is the amount to be raised by local property taxes.
The general fund budget was $18.4 million, with $3.9 million for the wastewater budget and $1.8 million in the water budget.
City taxpayers were responsible for an $8.1 million tax levy in 2013, or $159,465 more than in 2012. Tax rates for the city saw a slight increase in 2013 at $15.33 per $1,000 of assessed property value, up from $15.20 per $1,000 last year.
Tobin said there are some question marks in this year’s budget tied to grant funding the city has budgeted for but not received.
Last year’s budget closed a $1 million gap by joining the Tompkins County Health Care Consortium.
During budget workshops this year, an idea to close a similar gap in this year’s budget has been joining the state’s stable pension rate referral plan.
The referral plan would save municipalities in the short term but would end up costing them more by the end of the 25-year program.
Other topics of discussion from the city’s budget workshop included creating separate zip codes for Cortland and Cortlandville to raise the city’s sales tax revenue and investigating shared municipal fire services.
Rising health care and pensions costs are outpacing the city’s revenue, which has relatively flat in recent years. The city’s health care premiums will increase 8 percent in 2014.
A recent resolution passed by the council would allow 25 retirees to receive stipends for voluntarily leaving the city’s health care plan. The net savings for the city would be around $200,000.
Tobin said that the city’s revenue is a concern and will remain so in the near future.
“If it’s going to change, there’s nothing to indicate it will change in a positive way,” Tobin said.
The city’s hiring freeze will also be reviewed as budget season opens. Fire Chief Charles Glover came before the council requesting the ban on hiring be lifted on two occasions in August hoping to replace a retiring firefighter.
In addition to the fire department, resolutions to lift the hiring freeze in the mayor’s office and law department will be considered Tuesday at the council’s meeting.
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