Mayor Ann Thane submitted her proposed 2015/2016 budget to the Common Council on Wednesday. The proposed budget includes a 1.09% property tax increase as well as a 1.95% increase in the residential flat rate, per-unit user fee which includes fees for sewer, water and sanitation.
In a statement released along with the budget, Thane said that retirement and insurance costs had risen by approximately $900,000. She also called attention to a projected shortfall of $90,000 in the Golf Fund. For revenues, Thane said that the city expects a $215,000 increase in sales tax as well as a projected $660,000 for providing ambulance services.
Along with Fire Chief Michael Whitty, Thane proposed the idea of borrowing approximately $180,000 at a Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday to purchase two ambulances in order to provide service to city residents. The move would replace GAVAC as the long standing primary provider of ambulance services in the city. The purchase has yet to be approved by the Common Council.
In the statement, Thane said, “We can be cautiously optimistic and plan for continued improvement of our fiscal condition given the work of this administration over the past seven and a half years and the excellent caliber of our staff. I am very grateful to our department heads for submitting budgets that held to the tax cap while still providing essential services to our constituency. I am especially appreciative of the long hours Controller Matthew Agresta devoted to put this budget together in a timely fashion.”
The next step in the process is for the Common Council to conduct a review of the proposed budget, make changes and then pass their own version of the budget before June 1. The Mayor can then submit the equivalent of line-item vetoes or “objections” to any of the council’s changes. The changes can be overridden by a two-thirds majority vote by the council. A public hearing for the budget is also required to be held before May 15.