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March 13, 2017 - 8:42pm

City Council passes 2017-18 budget, 2.75 percent raise for non-union employees

posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city council, Ellicott Trail.

City Council on Monday night passed numerous resolutions, most notably the 2017-18 city budget, which was approved by an 8-1 vote (with Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian dissenting).

The $24 million budget -- of which $16.5 million comprises the general fund -- calls for a property tax levy of $5.2 million and an increase of less than 1 percent in the tax rate.

Passage of the budget was welcome news for Julie Pacatte, coordinator of the Batavia Development Corporation, who attended the meeting along with BDC President Pier Cipollone.

"It means that the city is supporting us in more good work to do, particularly related to the Brownfield Opportunity Area advancement," Pacatte said. "This budget, specifically, has some additional carve-outs to help us advance our second BOA site – Creek Park – behind the (Falleti) ice arena (on Evans Street)."

Before the budget vote, Christian expressed her disappointment with the fact that city revenues are down by $458,000 and that a sales tax agreement has yet to be reached with Genesee County.

"Also, I've been waiting for sidewalks on Clifton Avenue (in her Ward) for over 12 years and wanted some of the money from the VLT (video lottery terminals at Batavia Downs Gaming) for a pool on the Southside," she said.

This prompted Robert Bialkowski to mention that no one spoke against the budget during last month's public hearing and that City Manager Jason Molino met Council's request to reduce the tax increase to less than 1 percent.

Adoption of the spending plan means that the tax bill for a city resident with a house assessed at $90,000 will now be about $838 for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Council President Eugene Jankowski noted that the property tax levy of $5.2 million is only about a third of the total general budget, and asked for a breakdown of the revenue stream.

Molino pointed out that, beyond the $5 million from property taxes, about $6 million comes in from sales taxes, another $1.7 million from state aid, and the rest from an assortment of fees, aid, grants, income from services provided and mortgage taxes.

In other action, Council:

-- Passed resolutions establishing slightly higher new water rates and meter fees, a 2.75-percent increase for non-union city employees (including management) and slight wage increases for part-time and seasonal city employees. All three of those resolutions passed by 7-2 votes, with Christian and Paul Viele voting "no" in each instance.

-- Voted unanimously to adopt a local law to amend the Business Improvement District Plan.

Molino said the amendment to the plan was a lowering of the assessment charge on the properties in the Business Improvement District because of the expiration of a large debt service payment.

"The amount levied is going down from about $120,000 to about $57,000," he said. "So what property owners can expect to see in the BID is a decrease in that BID assessment charge."

In an email to The Batavian, Molino said that the BID Plan identifies two sources for funding the activities of the Business Improvement District: the Business Improvement District assessment (BID Assessment) and the City of Batavia. The BID Assessment for each property is calculated by multiplying the assessed valuation of the property by the BID assessment rate.

In accordance with the General Municipal Law 980-k, a BID is limited in the amount of money that can be raised through the assessment. The district assessment charge, excluding debt service, may not exceed 20 percent of the total general municipal taxes levied in a year against the taxable property in the BID.

As of Feb. 1, it is estimated that 20 percent of the total general municipal taxes levied in 2017-18 against the taxable property in the BID is $57,926, based on current taxable assessed values and the existing City property tax rate. The BID assessment rate is estimated to be $1.844 per $1,000 of assessed value. There is currently no debt service to be paid for with district assessment charges.

-- Welcomed new Batavia City Police officers Ryan Shea and Matthew Dispenza, who were officially sworn in by City Clerk Heidi Parker, and recognized Jayme Privitera, of Le Roy, for submitting the first-place logo in the Ellicott Trail Logo Contest, which was reported first on The Batavian last month.

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From left, Assistant Chief Todd Crossett, Ryan Shea, Matthew Dispenza, Chief Shawn Heubusch.

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City Councilwoman Kathleen Briggs reads a proclamation honoring Jayme Privitera, who created the winning logo in the Ellicott Trail Logo Contest. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

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