All along the process, the city's 2011/12 budget had its detractors, from the 1.4-percent property tax increase to the $13 per household water and sewer rate increase and its creation of an economic development position.
But in the end, there were only two no votes among the nine Batavia City Council members as the budget passed muster Tuesday night.
"Batavia is in pretty good shape," said Councilman Frank Ferrando. "That took a lot of work the past three or four years. We've made cuts, we did away with the ambulance service, we did some things that weren't too easy and worked ourselves into a position from where I thought we could go bankrupt or 'where are we going to get the money?' to where we are today. This budget keeps that going. I think this is a sound budget."
Council members Sam Barone and Rose Mary Christian both voted "no."
The biggest objection raised by council members -- and by John Roach (top inset), the only citizen to speak to the budget -- was the creation of an economic development position.
The position will be funded by $10,000 from the city and money from the revolving loan grant fund.
"Nobody (from the GCEDC or BID) has come forward to say they want this position," said Councilwoman Kathy Briggs (bottom inset). "I question whether we can even use the revolving loan money. What did the original grant say about what percentage of the money can be used for administration? I think we need to put this on hold until some future time -- strike it out of the budget."
Councilman Bill Cox said at a time when the city's young people are moving elsewhere for jobs, and none of the critics of the plan have offered a better alternative for creating economic opportunity in the city, he supports creation of the position.
"We need take action," Cox said. "We need to take a step forward if we don’t take action on this we’re going to lose another year and we're going to go down even further. This is the only thing anybody has recommended that makes sense and is doable."
Councilman Bob Bialkowski raised concerns about increasing taxes at a time of economic distress. Bialkowski pointed to the situation in the Middle East and rising oil prices, rising grocery prices, and said -- along with the lack of cost-of-living adjustments for seniors on fixed incomes -- a tax increase is going to hit many people pretty hard.
Barone suggested there was still fat to be trimmed from the $22 million spending plan.
"I still think there are places we can cut," Barone said. "It's only 1.4 percent, but the economy is still in bad shape."
The tax hike amounts to about $70,000 in additional revenue for the city.