Mayor Lovely Warren has released her second annual budget proposal for Rochester, which will hold property taxes flat, and reduce spending by $2 million for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the mayor stated.
“Many of our city’s families have been struggling to make ends meet and face ever-increasing costs,” said Mayor Warren. “I have worked very hard to make Rochester’s city government live within its means so we can keep from adding more to our citizens often difficult financial burden. To keep faith with our taxpayers, my budget for 2015-16 maintains services while reducing spending and holds the property tax levy flat.”
The mayor’s $501.6 million proposed budget includes spending for police body cameras; recreation center upgrades; city housing repair and rehabilitation programs; neighborhood infrastructure, support for investment in festivals and events; and operational costs for swimming at Durand Eastman Beach. The tax levy will remain the same at $172 million.
However, Warren has proposed a 2.1 percent increase in water rates, and a 1.9 percent increase in sewer rates, as additional service charges.
In addition, the mayor’s budget also includes a net increase of 11 full-time positions, including five positions associated with the newly created Office of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives.
Yet, up to six full-time and five part-time layoffs may still occur as a result of staffing changes, reorganizations and other reductions, Warren stated, although she said she hopes to reduce the number by staff retirements and reassignments.
The mayor’s budget will also also include continued spending for city programs, including Operation Transformation Rochester, and the Summer of Opportunity youth employment program.
Warren said the city has received an additional $20.7 million in capital grants from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, as well as $2 million dollars in unrestricted state aid, in addition to the $88 million in state-based aid allocated to municipalities this year.
According to Warren, the funds have allowed the city to work toward closing its projected $34.8 million budget gap.
“Success in obtaining state aid would not have been possible without my partnership, and positive working relationship, with Gov. Cuomo; Assembly members Gantt, Morelle, Bronson; Senators Robach and Funke, and our entire state delegation,” Warren said. “I thank them for their support.”
The mayor also said there was an unprecedented amount of citizen input which informed the budget process this year, including a public meeting held at City Hall, a town hall discussion conducted via telephone, and an online poll, all of which the city used to gain public input for the budget.
Rochester’s City Council will hold hearings for the budget June 3 and 9, as well as a public hearing for the school board June 10. The council will then vote to approve the budget June 16.