Council passes $21 million budget, with tax increase, on 7-2 vote
It's now official -- city property owners can expect a 1.5-percent rate increase in property taxes.
On a 7-2 vote last night, the Batavia City Council approved the 2010/11 budget, which comes in at $21.7 million in expenditures.
The no votes came from Councilman Sam Barone and Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian.
"If this budget passes, the only thing we will be doing is squeezing and choking off the middle class," Christian said.
Christian's areas of concern, she said during the meeting, were legal fees, community celebrations, a drop in sales tax last month, the high cost of youth services and she called $527,000 for parks "outrageous." She also objected to the transfer of water funds to the general fund and said the contingency fund is much too low, especially since it's likely that police officers will win an arbitration case granting them retroactive pay raises.
Christian also complained that constituents in the Sixth Ward have reported high reassessments, from $7,000 to $11,000 more, for their homes.
"This is really going to hurt these people," Christian said.
During the public comments section of the meeting, before the budget vote, city resident Daniel Del Plato spoke vehemently against the proposed budget, saying city taxpayers couldn't handle any further tax increases.
"You're trying to get blood from stones," Del Plato said.
She also objected to a pay raise for non-union employees, which did pass in a separate motion on a 5-4 vote. Voting no were Christian, Barone and council members Bill Cox and Bob Bialkowski.
The council also approved plans to raise water rates and seek bonds to fund the start of a five-year or longer process of water infrastructure upgrades. Barone voted no on both resolutions.