Consolidation would save money and not increase taxes, committee reports
A united Batavia will clearly lead to cost savings now and in the future consultant Charles Zettek, Jr. told a join meeting of the Batavia City Council and Batavia Town Board this evening.
The immediate savings, conservatively speaking is $943,000, with additional annual savings in future years, said Zettek, VP of Government Management Services.
"There will be no negative impact on the property tax burdens (for residents of both the town and the city)," Zettek said.
Tonight's meeting was designed to present the consolidation committee's report, titled "A Vision of One Batavia," to elected officials from both agencies.
While the meeting was open to the public, questions and discussion were restricted to elected officials and committee members.
The 15 page report will be released on the Web to the public tomorrow along with all the supporting documents, such as spreadsheets comparing city and town expenses and revenues.
A large portion of the "cost savings" actually comes in the form of additional revenue from the state to reward government agencies consolidating services.
That $790,000 per year is would be a perpetual grant annual grant to the new consolidated government.
There would be additional savings from efficiencies gained by the consolidation, even though no current jobs would be eliminated. Work force would be reduced over the first five years of the new government through attrition and retirement.
Insuring there is no negative impact on taxpayers is achieved by creating a three-tiered system of taxes and spending that would prevent the town, for example, from being burdened by city debt or the expense of fully funded police and fire operations.
In the new system, Tier 1 would cover the consolidated region, both city and town. Tier 2 would be the current city and Tier 3 would be the current town.
Tier 1 would pay for and receive services and government agencies that serve both parts of the new jurisdiction equally, such as public works and city/town administration.
Tier 2 would pay for and receive the services currently received by city residents, such as police and fire protection and garbage collection. Tier 2 taxpayers would also shoulder the burden of the city's existing debt until it was paid off.
Tier 3 would continue to receive fire protection from the volunteer fire departments and police protection from the Sheriff's Office. Taxes would not be increased in Tier 3 to pay for Tier 2 services or debt.
As for whether the new jurisdiction would be a city or a town, that's yet to be decided, but Lynn Freeaman said the committee saw more advantages, both in cost savings and grants from the state, in forming a new city government rather than a town.
- Frank Ferrando praises work of committee.
- Beverly Mancuso on pioneering effort
- Lynn Freeman on benefits of city form of government
- Post meeting interview with Charles Zettek
- Post meeting interview with Jason Molino
UPDATE: I forgot to include: There will be two public meetings where residents can weigh in and ask questions. One June 18 and one June 30, both at 7 p.m. One will be at Town Hall, one at City Hall, though which one on which date has yet to be determined. Also if it looks like turn out will be sufficient, one will be at Batavia High School. Since there are many details to flesh out, and options to be considered, public input is an important part of the process.UPDATE: Here's WIVB's coverage: