JAMESTOWN – Mayor Sam Teresi has released a 2017 budget that contains more than $878,000 more in spending than in revenue.
On Tuesday afternoon Teresi presented his $35 million spending plan, which is $70,000 lower than the spending in the current year’s budget. However, despite the slight decrease in spending, the 2017 budget also contains an $878,736 deficit.
According to the mayor, he and his staff have tried to identify as many cuts to the budget as possible, but due to several mandates including minimum staffing requirements and healthcare contributions, he was only able to bring down spending so much.
On the revenue side, the city will be unable to rely on several revenue options it had in previous years, including the profit contributions from the BPU and even the ability to raise property taxes enough to close the deficit. That’s because the city has all but reached its constitutional taxing limit for the current year. In fact, the mayor’s 2017 budget contains a .96 percent increase in the tax levy, which brings the city up to its constitutional taxing limit of $15,844,270. That equates to a tax rate increase for property owners of .76 percent – or $0.18 per thousand assessed value.
SEVERAL ASSUMPTIONS NEED TO BE REALIZED
Even with the budget deficit in place, the 2017 spending plan presented by the mayor also contains 15 different conditions and assumptions that need to move forward in 2017 or else the deficit could grow larger.
Those assumptions include a $250,000 (71 percent) funding cut to the James Prendergast Library and a $600,000 grant from the state to assist with the buyout of Medicare-eligible retirees who would voluntarily leave city’s healthcare program, thus reducing that spending line for next year and in future years.
Another assumption is moving forward with the proposed city-county shared services agreement in public safety – which could save $25,000 next year – but could ultimately result in a seven figures savings per year within two decades. However, that Police Consolidation proposal – which is still in the finalization process – needs to be approved by both the county and city in order to go into effect.
The mayor said that despite presenting a budget that contains an $878,000 deficit, he’s not ready to throw in the towel. He said that in the coming weeks and the city council will continue to work on trying to balance the spending plan.
Copies of the budget are available at the city clerk’s office, in the mayor’s office, and also at the Prendergast Library for public review.
The city is required to have a budget in place by Dec. 1.
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