The Newburgh City Manager and staff presented a proposed 2018 budget to residents at City Hall this month. The $44,402,901 spending plan calls for serious belt tightening to cover large expenses such as healthcare and sewer improvements required by the state. “There are some hard choices that had to be made,” City Manager Michael Ciaravino said.
The proposed budget is down $7,385 this year, by less than one percent. The budget brings a proposed tax levy of $19,654,325 – up by $191,761 from last year.
If adopted, the budget would lower the homestead property-tax rate; the proposed homestead rate is $19.3543 per $1,000 of assessed property value, a 29-cent decrease from last year, which comes to a $72.21 decrease for property assessed at $250,000. The non-homestead rate, or commercial property tax rate, would remain flat at $26.1329 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
These tax rates will come “at a tremendous sacrifice,” Ciaravino cautioned, posing possible layoffs, unfilled positions and cuts to staff hours. The lean budget will require the city to reduce overtime by about 38 percent. “We’re looking at a radical reexamination and revamping of the overtime structure at the police and fire departments,” Ciaravino said.
Another option, to maintain eight positions, is to increase tax rates slightly, resulting in an $8 per year homestead tax bill increase and a $108 non-homestead tax bill hike on properties assessed at $250,000. “My city manager budget proposes we will cut these positions,” the city manager said.
The proposed budget had several goals, city Comptroller Katie Mack explained. “The first was to review the use and approval of overtime in all departments,” she said.
Another was to fund grant matches for projects including the replacement of Lake Street Bridge and the rehabilitation of the Dutch Reform Church. The budget also takes into account this year’s property-assessment changes.
The new budget relies less on the city’s fund balance, the comptroller said. In recent years, a third of the fund balance was used to cover the annual budget, Mack said. “Since that piggy bank only has $3.2 million, the idea of taking a third of that every year to balance the budget puts the city in a very precarious situation,” she said.
The spending plan includes a separate water-sewer-and-sanitation budget (enterprise budget) of more than $15 million. This budget calls for a sewer-rate increase of 4 percent. The increase was generated, in large part, by sewer upgrades required by the city’s “Long Term Control Plan.” The 15-year plan satisfies terms laid out in a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation consent order calling for a separation of the city’s combined sewer system.
Water and sanitation rates are expected to remain flat. A public hearing on the proposed budget will be held at City Hall at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 13. For more information on the proposed 2018 budget, go to Cityofnewburgh-ny.gov.
By SHANTAL RILEY