BATAVIA – The City Council on Monday passed a 2014-2015 budget of $23.5 million after two months of debate and discussion whose saving grace may be a drop in real property taxes.
The budget was approved by a vote of 5-4, triggered by a simmering dispute over reviving the post of assistant city manager. It provides for a tax rate of $9.17 for each $1,000 of assessment, an increase of 13 cents per $1,000. It survived motions to redo it and table it. Both were ruled improper and impractical because they would be lengthy processes.
City Manager Jason R. Molino said when he presented the budget in mid-January that he would need an assistant to cover complicated issues such as excessive flood insurance premiums, an issue with people living near Tonawanda Creek.
Opponents said that the post was not needed and that Public Works Director Sally Kuzon had filled the position years ago after Molino was promoted from assistant.
Opponents, most of them concerned with a possible $75,000 annual salary and benefits that would be added to the city payroll, included at-large members Eugene A. Jankowski and John Deleo and ward members Cathy Briggs and Rose Mary Christian, who in 20 years has rarely voted for a budget.
The Council also approved:
• New water and sewer rates, a slight increase, along with a hike in the fee for capital improvements to an aging water and sewer system.
• A 2.5 percent pay raise for non-union, seasonal and part-time workers.
• $35,000 to the Vibrant Batavia committee, which is working on improving neighborhoods.
• A total of $225,000 from Video Lottery Terminal proceeds at Batavia Downs Gaming and an unused balance for the reconstruction of Summit Street.