Near the end of his budget message, Molino, a huge hockey fan, writes, "Put in perspective, Time Warner Cable increased the standard cable rate December 1, 2011 by $4.55/month or $54.60/year, and now you can’t watch the Sabre’s games.".....Poor example Molino...We can quit cable and get our services some where else..Take the trash rate out of the city's hand and let us choose our own service..We shouldn't have to pay to dispose of our trash on what our homes are assessed at..Make it a flat rate and treat all homes equally....I read the budget message and no where did i see any cuts to dept.budgets..Our taxes were raised to pay off the millions in debt that the city was in...That is paid off ,our assessments have all gone up in the last few years..There is no need to raise taxes ,when you are still giving out raises every year to all city employees..Go back to the drawing board....Lets see what this new city council will do about this...Will they just nod their head and agree,or will the fight for the tax payer like they all said they would....Time to make employees pay more of their health care costs like all us private sector people.....
Mandates drive up city's costs; tax increase and use of reserves proposed to balance budget
Submitted by Howard Owens on January 15, 2012 - 3:20pm
In an effort to grapple with ever increasing retirement and healthcare costs, along with maintaining the city's contingency funds, Batavia City Manager Jason Molino is recommending a property tax increase for fiscal year 2012-13.
The proposed budget increases the tax levy by 4.32 percent, or $241,221, to cover anticipated expenses of $15,758,611.
The increase is about $4,000 less than allowed under the state's tax cap law, according to Molino's budget message.
The rate would become $10.94 per $1,000 of assessed value, or $37 per year, or $3 per month, on a home assessed at $80,000.
Near the end of his budget message, Molino, a huge hockey fan, writes, "Put in perspective, Time Warner Cable increased the standard cable rate December 1, 2011 by $4.55/month or $54.60/year, and now you can’t watch the Sabre’s games."
However, as stated in this message the City is faced with challenging decisions due to detrimental increases in state mandated costs. Use of reserve funds have been tapped to larger extents this year as fixed costs in retirement and healthcare surge, and needed equipment replacements and sidewalk repairs are required. In addition, for the first year in the last five, it is proposed that the City utilize unappropriated/unreserved fund balance to assist with balancing the budget.
State aid for municipalities will likely be reduced again, Molino said.
Retirement contributions are expected to increase 15 percent over the previous fiscal year, or by $182,000.
Healthcare is expected to go up 16 percent, or $256,000 over the prior year.
Much of the healthcare increase is being driven by an increase in health insurance for retirees.
Even with the increase in taxes, the city will need to tap $100,000 from its undesignated reserves to help balance the budget.
The budget also includes setting aside funds for future, potentially larger, increases in retirement and healthcare costs. Those reserves built up in previous years will be tapped in this budget for $65,000 apiece.
"The State’s woes cannot be an obstacle to the City’s success, and this budget continues to put our best foot forward by building our great City to its fullest potential," Molino said.
Designated reserves for equipment replacement ($210,000) and sidewalk repair ($75,000) are also expected to be used in 2012-13.
The undesignated fund balance as of March 31, 2011 was $493,273, which Molino said is far below the NYS Comptroller’s recommended levels of 5 to 10 percent of general fund operations, which would mean a healthy reserve would be $750,000 to $1.5 million.
The city will need to spend $36,000 on a new phone system, according to the budget message. The current system was scheduled for replacement in 2009 but wasn't. Its manufacturer will discontinue support for the system this year, making repairs more expensive and less reliable.
Water rates will go up 3 percent, if the proposed budget is approved, to $4.44 per 1,000 gallons. Water customers will also pay $8-per-year for anticipated infrastructure repairs and improvements. The fee increases 50 cents year-over-year.
There are no anticipated adjustments to the sewer rate.
In the conclusion of the budget message, Molino writes:
It is strongly encouraged that the City Council considers the proposed tax increase in order to safeguard against significant increases in retirement, healthcare or other costs. While it is understood that a property tax increase is not a popular decision, approving a modest property tax increase complemented with an increase in the contingency account may avoid the need for a more drastic tax increase in following years, which may require overriding the tax cap.
To read the budget message, click here (pdf).
Photo: City Hall photo, file photo.
The only fair way to pay for trash service is on a pay per bag basis. Why should the little old lady down the street who has maybe one bag of garbage a week pay the same as someone who has 5 - maybe more depending on the assessed value? Right now there is no incentive to recycle. If people actually had to pay for each bag of garbage they put out, you can bet their blue bins would be full every week.
And I agree with Mark that Time Warner was a bad example. When I got sick and tired of my Time Warner bill constantly going up, I got DirectTV. Now that that's also going up, I'm going to get rid of a few of the pay channels that we have and get rid of it completely in one of the rooms where we never watch it. I have some choices at least. If only I could call up the City and ask them to stop plowing the sidewalk in front of my house to lower my tax bill. And maybe they'll take off a few more dollars if I sweep the street in front of my house. I'm not trying to minimize the work that the city workers do because I think they do a good job. I think Mr. Molino is a little out of touch though.
So far I have to agree with other posters here. Pretty generic and useless arguments made for reaching deeper into our pockets. There is alot of waste, dont make raises for city employees automatic, make them based on merit. The cable system is a poor example as well. Like Beth we had cable at one point, then went to Direct TV and watched them increase as well. Now we have even fired them. TV's are so modernized nowadays that people dont realize what options are out there.
We pay 8.99 to netflix, 8.99 to hulu and can now watch just about everything we had available from Cable or Satellite. We can even see much of the current shows or watch local news thanks to News stations and internet video that come over the TV. And frankly we use netzero for a dsl hookup not the speediest connection out there but less than 25 a month and still streams video just fine. So 79.00 for the cheapest options for tv viewing or 8.99x2 + 21.00.. thats 39.00/month and you choose when and where you watch.
Now why can't you do creative money savings. Does the city really need a fancy phone system? Hell replace landlines with pay as u go cell phones, maybe it would cut on the wasted chatter and make the communications more streamlined. What do we pay for such contracts for landline based systems for which we end up having to replace due to service companies telling us they dont support them anymore?
The way i see whats going on here is that every year Molino is going to create a budget that comes in just a hair under the so called 2% tax cap...So far every year he has been in charge he has submitted a budget that is higher then the year before...I thought getting rid of the ambulance service was going to save our tax rates from going up..i though hiring a 60,000 dollar a year person to bring in new businesses was going to stop all the rate increases....I thought we were told last year that if they raised our rates that that wouldn't have to be raised again for a few years......Molino do your job and make some cuts....They always use the house assessed at 80,000 dollar ex....Only problem is that there are alot of homes assessed at over 100,000 dollars a year.....I also thought that the water charges that were raised last year was all that was needed..Now he's going to come in with additional hikes every year..When. do all these increases stop......Downsize should be the name of the game........
Just for the record 90% of those who are on city council have there houses assessed under 80,000 dollars ..So this won't be a big hit on their household budget...........This proposed budget also includes a 1.5 percent wage increase for management, a 1.5 percent increase for CSEA, 2.5 percent for fire employees and no wage increase for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees per their collective bargaining agreements...Looks like Molinio is giving himself a 1.5 % raise...How many on here got a raise last year...Seems like he gets one every year....2.5% for the firemen..What happened with looking into the volunteer fire fighter..They were going to go half paid half vounteer....Where did that study go.........
For the record, Malino can not give himself a raise. Council has to do that separately.
Water rates. Remember people, Monroe County sets our rates for the City of Batavia. The City just passes them on and collects the money. We buy and pay Monroe County for the water pumped out of the local water plant.
Trash: I agree, let us contract out on our own. But, then you have the people who cry about taking work from ARC and also making their church or other tax exempt group pay. When this subject has come up before, most people just sit at home, as always, and do nothing, while ARC supports show up at Council and make their pitch. You want change, then do something.
I got some ideas to lower the tax rate. Consolidate or eliminate...Wait... #*%\?
Never mind, no one wanted to do that...
Not exactly true. The vote is not until later this year, so you may have jumped the gun.
But, without the promised state money, there is not much of a projected tax rate cut for the city. On top of that, the town, which has no property tax now, would end up with one.
Mark, Batavia isn't ever going to change and it's not because of a sinister plot. After beating my head against the wall for years, I came to some conclusions about the people.
Batavians want the ARC to pick up the trash, they like the service and the idea.
Batavians want a police force to keep them safe.
Batavians want a full service fire department to keep them safe.
Batavians decided to take it on the chin to help the county prosper from the water deal.
Batavians want their sidewalks plowed and fixed.
Batavians want their Christmas trees picked up.
Batavians want nice parks.
Batavians want a nice downtown and events.
Batavians want to make sure City Hall is efficient.
And town people don't want to live in the city.
How many years in a row are city taxes going to go up? This has to be about the 5th year in a row? This has to stop and stop right now! As Mark says, the debt that the city was in has been paid off and it's time to stop this constant increase. How long does Molino and council think this can go on?
I spent 37 1/2 years at Kodak before I got "retired" on the end of their foot.
You know how much free health care I get from Kodak in my "retirement"? Close your eyes and what do you see?
Calling health care for retirees a 'mandate' makes me sick. Why can't the retirees pick up some of the costs?
Current employees should expect to make a larger contribution to their own health care. They should have to pay the increase. That's what happens to me in my current job. Why isn't this even a subject for discussion? Where is it written that public employees don't have to pay the same rate that is paid in the real world?
My take home pay hasn't risen significantly in 4 years because any meager increase that I do get is completely eaten up by the increase in my health care contribution that I don't even get a vote on!
Last time I looked, we were paying ~ $180,000 for Mr. Molino and Ms. Kuzon's salaries. And they need a raise? No, they don't need a raise and neither do the rest of the "management". What about the taxpayers???
I'd also love to know who is negotiating these contracts that binds the city to these increases.
New phone system??? Ummmmmm....one word answer. NO. Make the current system last.
I sincerely hope that council will take a serious look at this budget and bring Molino back to his senses. This is ridiculous.
Health care is not a mandate, it is part of contract negotiations. Employees can pay more if the contract says so.
And Charlie is right, read again what he wrote in #9.
The only way to really cut cost is to do away with services, and I think you really know that. Which will you drop, fire or police, which are 50% of the budget. That's where the savings will be, so which one Dave?
Based on past public hearings, 10 people who speak would be a high number. And almost none will say they want to really cut the big items (ARC, Police, Fire)