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March 14, 2023 - 8:06am

City Council votes of 6-2 establish tax cap override and $33.5M budget

posted by Joanne Beck in news, city council, 2023-24 budget, tax cap override, batavia.

In a seemingly predictable move, given City Council’s talks of late, the group voted Monday to adopt a law to override the tax cap limit and to approve the $33.5 million operational budget.

Both votes were six to two, with council members John Canale, Rich Richmond, Eugene Jankowski Jr., Paul Viele, Al McGinnis and Kathy Briggs giving a yes and Bob Bialkowski and Tammy Schmidt a no.

citycounciljan232023-5.jpg“Just as I’ve said in the past, I’m opposed to this, I think it can be avoided,” Bialkowski said. “The county is giving us $392,000 additional sales tax revenues. I’ve had contact from many taxpayers and voters, and they’re very upset with this. So that’s my position and opinion.”

Likewise, Schmidt isn’t in favor of the budget and override and has previously mentioned that she’s voting for her constituents.

“I’ve had many voters asking me to vote no, and I am going to do so,” she said Monday, questioning some budget logic. “So we don't want to use the county money because it's one-time money. But we did use the one-time, Alliance money for raises. So next year, I don't know how we're going to cover those raises. But we're using one-time money for raises but won't use one-time money for the tax cap override. So that's just my comment.”

Jankowski emphasized that the tax rate was lowered last year, and overall, he feels that the city has been doing a good fiscal job.

citycounciljan232023-3.jpg"We're not using $110,000 out of retirement reserves, which we were kind of forced to do the last two years, we've broken away from that. We're not using VLT money to supplement the budget because we got burned one time. And it was hard not to do during COVID. We were struggling with everyone else. But we were able to get off of that. So that's a huge step in the right direction,” Jankowski said. “We've lowered our debt service by 9%, which has put us in good financial condition to bond the new police station, the LED streetlight conversion, the ice rink chiller, the Zamboni and three upcoming major water and sewer infrastructure improvements,” he said. “So I think we're on the right track to provide the services that people expect in the public safety and things like that. Even though, at this point, we're still taking $454,000 out of the fund balance to kind of cover the budget this year.

“So I think we're doing pretty good, I'm really happy with it. All the people I talked to understand the situation we're in to give us their full support. And I have had one or two people that have concerns, and after talking to them, they understand where we're at,” he said. “So I just wanted to make that clear because, you know, there's some negativity here. I'm not happy about this tax cap, either. But I think under the circumstances, what we're achieving here, and how we're doing it, I think is the proper way to go.”

Viele agreed with Jankowski, and Briggs said that she’s had a few phone calls, but “once I explained it, they were fine,” she said.

The tax cap override means that the city will be able to collect a $6.6 million tax levy for the $19.4 million general budget. City taxpayers won’t see an increased tax rate, as that will remain flat at $8.94 per $1,000 assessed value.

Council was unanimous in its vote to approve the 30-cent water rate increase, which, along with an increased water meter rate and capital improvement fees, will tack on about $60 more for an average home of four people.

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