OLEAN – Mayor Linda Witte and City Auditor Fred Saradin have drawn up a tentative city budget that calls for a 2 percent cut in the general tax levy for the coming year. Their plan calls for general fund spending of $16,649,329, down $63,469 from this year.
Despite the cut in the proposed general levy, the budget calls for increases of 5 percent and 7 percent in water and sewer usage fees, respectively. The increases are mostly for debt services on the city water system. In previous years, water and sewer debt services were paid through contingency funds, but those funds no longer are available.
Witte said, “It is a fair budget and remains a decrease of 2 percent. We took a broad view of all the suggestions department heads have put in. We have worked around some issues with taking monies from the contingency. So, I am comfortable with the budget.”
The city auditor said he likes the way the numbers have aligned.
“It’s a compilation of the original budget of a month ago,” Saradin said. “I think we listened to all of the suggestions and concerns of all the aldermen. It contains everything we have been talking about for the last four to six weeks. I think we are ready to go on it.”
Because of fiscal situations of the past, the City of Olean budget is reviewed by the state Comptroller’s Office. According to Witte, the comptroller’s staff found only one area to work on for future years.
“Going into the future, [the Comptroller’s Office] would like to see us either budget by department for vehicles or have a dedicated line,” Witte said. “Not just put it upon contingency. We agree that that is important also.”
This year’s budget would have the city using money from the contingency fund to purchase vehicles. The suggestion made would give more of a traceable way of purchasing vehicles for official city use.
Voting on the tentative budget is scheduled to take place at the April 9 meeting of the Common Council.