The Common Council committee of the whole passed the 2014 budget at a special budget meeting, Tues Nov 12. The addition of two funding lines for Ithaca Police Department officers, to start April 1, was among the items debated before final approval.
Discussion of the officer lines vacillated between concerns over increased crime rates and the desire to not increase taxes. The addition of the officer lines would have added $117,000 to the 2014 budget and $200,000 in 2015 and if funded by a tax increase, would have brought the tax levy over the 2.12 percent tax cap. Council members also discussed the lack of information concerning the effectiveness of two additional lines in decreasing crime rates, the continuing contract negotiations, and the four officer lines likely to be vacated next year pending successful retirement applications.
The officer amendment failed after a tie vote was broken with Mayor Svante Myrick voting against. Myrick reminded the council that despite recent attention called to rising crime rates, Ithaca enjoys a lower crime rate than other cities of the same size and boasts a larger police force and public safety budget than similar cities.