Advertisements on parking receipts. A switch to energy-efficient light bulbs. More aggressive collection of unpaid bills.
The Common Council isn’t expected to amend the proposed 2013-14 budget in significant ways, but it has raised ideas about how the city should increase revenue.
“I think we’re missing revenue at times because we’re not as aggressive,” said Ellicott Council Member Darius G. Pridgen, who suggested Monday that the city sell advertising on the back of parking meter receipts and on garbage and recycling totes.
Mayor Byron W. Brown’s proposed $482.5 million spending plan does not raise taxes or fees but relies on a variety of one-time revenues, including $12 million in surpluses from prior years.
Lawmakers said they would like the city to find new revenues, or trim its costs, to prepare for the day when savings aren’t available to balance the budget, but they acknowledged the Brown administration is known for its conservative budgeting practices.
Many of the revenue-raisers lawmakers have suggested won’t be things they will formally put into the budget, but some are already in the works.
The city could generate a one-time revenue of $2 million from an audit of street lights, as it did in the late 1990s, said Council President Richard A. Fontana.
The audit, which already has been approved, would locate nonworking lights, and the city would seek reimbursements from National Grid for money paid to power those lights.
Fontana said the city’s switch to energy-efficient LED lighting also will save $1 million in energy costs.
Fontana, who represents Lovejoy, also is looking for ways to make garbage operations more financially solvent.
Even though city residents pay a separate fee for their garbage to be hauled away, the city’s solid waste fund operates at a deficit, requiring $3.2 million in general fund revenues to balance it.
The city allows residents to dump garbage at the transfer station on South Ogden Street, but too many times people who own many properties are abusing that privilege to dispose of more garbage than what’s generated by one household. Fontana said limits on free dumping there are in the works.
The city should also be more aggressive in collecting unpaid bills, Pridgen said. The city is owed $26 million.
Lawmakers also have ideas for how the city should spend its money. Shifting funds in the budget to pay for more crime surveillance cameras was suggested by Fillmore Council Member David A. Franczyk.
During a budget hearing with the Police Department, Commissioner Daniel Derenda said that the cameras are an effective tool for preventing and solving crimes and that the department has 600 requests from residents for cameras in their neighborhood, in addition to the 200 already in operation.
The cameras are about $20,000 each and will be funded in the new budget year with grants, not general fund revenue, but Franczyk suggested the Council move around $100,000 to pay for five more.
Members of the public will have an opportunity to speak out about the budget at 5 p.m. Thursday during a public hearing in Council Chambers. Lawmakers can amend the budget by May 22. It takes effect July 1.