City manager on budget passing: 'A balanced plan that funds things people count on - police, fire, roads'
The Batavia City Council tonight unanimously passed the 2022-23 budget, ending a five-month process that resulted in the funding of a $17.78 million general budget with a slight decrease in the property tax rate.
“It was a long process that starts in November when departments submit their budget. And we sit and we meet, and we hash out priorities in each department’s budget, especially when we're looking at general fund police and fire and DPW snow removal,” said City Manager Rachael Tabelski said following the Business Meeting at the City Centre Council Board Room.
Tabelski said she was “excited” by achieving a balanced budget “where the revenues conservatively are estimated to come in and match the expenses we have going out to, again, run the operations that people come to count on -- police, fire and roads.”
Council’s passage of the budget – the All-Funds budget totals $29.7 million – means that city property owners will pay a tax rate of $8.94 per $1,000 of assessed value – down by 78 cents from the 2021-22 figure.
That doesn’t mean that everyone’s tax bill will decrease since most homeowners’ assessments went up – a fact not lost on Tabelski.
“The tax rate will go down It will depend on -- your payment -- … if your assessment went up,” she said. “I know many, many residents -- almost 4,200 -- assessments went up because of market conditions during COVID and the hot housing market. My hope is that that has cooled slightly, and we're not going to see large sweeping increases in assessments moving forward because it is difficult.”
Tabelski said that people react differently when assessments are raised.
“Some people like the assessment to go up because it increases the equity and value in their home, and others understand that it can mean at times a tax increase as well,” she said. “So, I'm very sympathetic to kind of understanding where residents of the city are and trying to keep our budget as efficient as possible.”
When asked if she could identify one highlight of the budget, she came up with the fact that more money was put into the police department’s Emergency Response Team.
“They are called a countywide response team, but it's run by City of Batavia Police and they're called on the scenes where they might need something like hostage negotiation or barricaded individuals,” she said. “And I was happy that we're able to bring more funding to that program this year.”
Council also approved a 1.5 percent increase in water rates, meter fees and capital improvement fees for the 2022-23 fiscal year.