BATAVIA – The city needs to take advantage of its location, taxes and neighborhoods while dealing with older housing stock, an aging population and few high-paying jobs as it plots a course for the future.
That was the conclusion of a strategic planning document with goals for the next two to three years released this week by the city manager’s office following dozens of interviews and discussions.
Opportunities outlined in a written report were: consolidation with the town of Batavia; greater collaboration with Genesee County and the Genesee Economic Development Center; and re-use of Harvester Center, a sprawling former farm implement factory.
Threats as seen by the City Council and staff are: state mandates and pension costs, only three major private employers, declining population, lack of state funding and a sales tax tied to the local economy.
The ongoing strategic planning, which began in 2010, is the foundation for a separate business-oriented plan and is a factor in annual budget preparation.
Targeted areas are: financial health and government efficiency, economic development and job creation and neighborhood revitalization.
Uncertain factors for the future include: union contracts, and state retirement costs, which continue to escalate along with health care expenses for public employees and retirees.
The document concludes that the city’s financial outlook “remains questionable” with lagging growth in the tax base and a 2 percent state property cap.
Planning is needed for funding reserves, capital and equipment replacements and maintaining low-cost, high-quality services to residents, the report advises.