BATAVIA – A $15.3 million budget for 2013-14 will reduce real property taxes but may raise concerns because of three significant changes.
City Manager Jason R. Molino’s spending plan for the fiscal year beginning April 1 reduces spending by about 2½ percent and lowers the property levy from $10.71 to $9.15 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That’s the first drop in the tax rate in the six years since the city wrestled with annual operating losses.
However, the new rate, saving the owner of an $80,000 home $120, will be offset by a change in trash pickup and recycling with a new “pay as you throw” curbside pickup vendor. That will cost from $169 to $198 per year, added to the tax bill.
The new vendor, Allied Republic, submitted a lower bid and would assume the services handled for nearly 30 years by Genesee ARC. ARC’s no-bid tenure provided more than a service; it hired 30 mostly handicapped workers who would have difficulty finding employment and could wind up on welfare roles.
However, the savings on a new five-year contract would amount to $1.2 million and allow for the 14.6 percent drop in the property tax rate.
A second potential stumbling block in budget discussions later this month involves year-old pay raises for City Council members. The issue was always defeated when it went to a citywide vote in past years. A few years ago, the City Charter was revised to allow the Council to vote on raises. Last year’s raise for eight Council members was from $2,000 to $3,500, and the president receives $4,000 instead of $2,800. That resolution passed the Council on a 6-3 vote, leaving it open to question in budget discussions this year.
The budget also proposes eliminating three police lieutenants through retirement in favor of a deputy chief.
The additional Council pay costs $14,100; reducing police officers for a deputy chief would save $10,000.
General fund expenditures are up because of a fourth consecutive major increase in the state retirement contribution, health care costs for employees and retirees, and higher premiums for workers’ compensation insurance.