Ithaca City Hall

ITHACA, NY -- After nearly two years of economic uncertainty, Mayor Svante Myrick presented an $84 million budget to the Common Council on Oct. 6 that will reduce the tax rate by .68% to $11.77 per $1,000. According to Myrick the local economy has begun to rebound and the 2022 budget was buoyed by rising sales tax revenue, real estate development and over $16 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The estimated sales tax revenue next year is $14.9 million, which is up nearly 8% from what was budgeted in 2021, but about 1% more than what the city is on pace to actually bring in this year. Myrick said they also expect about $2 million in permit revenue from development, and $165,000 in street closure revenue from construction work. Parking revenue is still underperforming due to remote work and the closure of Green Street garage.

There will be no changes to the sidewalk, trash tags or yard waste fees, however there will be a 4% increase in water rates and sewer rates. That will put water rates at $9.73 per 100 cubic feet and sewer rates at $6.03 per 100 cubic feet. Myrick said those costs are largely to keep up with the capital costs that came with building the new water treatment plant.

When crafting next year’s budget, Myrick said he focused on investing in the city’s workforce, infrastructure and the community.

Workforce

· DPW

o Restore working supervisor position

o New stormwater engineer

o Restore mechanic position

o New transfer sanitation worker

o New financial management assistant

o New assistant chief operator for wastewater treatment facility

o New grant writer

· Sustainability

o Electrification feasibility assessment

o Electrical vehicle charging stations

o Community choice aggregation

o New sustainability planner to execute Green New Deal

· Fire Department

o New financial management assistant

o Equipment replacement and repair

o Capital investment in station

· Planning/Development/Economy

o Investment in federal lobbying assistance

o New ergonomic office furniture

o New code inspector position

o New events coordinator position

· Public Safety

o Two new Ithaca Police officer positions

o $307,000 for Reimagining implementation

o $400,000 in start-up costs for department of public safety

· Youth Bureau

o New administrative position

o New recreation program leader

o New youth program leader

o Increase hours of current recreation program leader

· Public Information/Technology

o Computer replacements

o Cybersecurity training

o DocuSign software

· Other

o Living wage increases

o New deputy city controller position

o 4% increase to GIAC for two more positions

o Compensation study

o Lateral transfer bonuses

Community

· Increase funding to Southside Community Center by 32%

· Continue funding Community Outreach Worker position

· Funding for mental health court

· Funding to LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion)

· Funding for Stewart Park — Wharton Studio Park Center

· Funding for My Brother’s Keeper

· Funding for Black Hands Universal

· Funding for Unbroken Promises Initiative

· Funding for Human Services Coalition

· Funding for Ithaca Area Economic Development

· 3.5% increase for TCAT funding

Infrastructure

Myrick proposed $10 million in capital projects at a previously covered meeting. These funds will go toward major projects like finishing Cass Park Rink, fixing the Cass Park pool, supporting local businesses, repairing all the fire stations, replacing police vehicles, beginning repairs on the 60-foot dam, road work and traffic studies, myriad water and sewer projects and more. For the full breakdown of capital projects, visit Ithaca.com.

The budget process continues with public comment sessions and council discussions throughout October, with the first two meetings scheduled back-to-back for Oct. 13 and Oct. 14.

(2) comments

Jason Evans

Tanner,

How much have assessments gone up in the past year? Are there any projections to how much assessments will increase in the next year?

Richard Ballantyne

That "slightly lower tax rate" is not helpful enough since we taxpayers are still paying more in terms of dollars since property assessments have increased a lot during the past 4 years. Here are some facts according to https://www.cityofithaca.org/427/City-Budget

2019 tax levy: $23,613,758

2020 tax levy: $24,443,600

2021 tax levy: $26,384,571

2022 proposed tax levy: $26,366,541

The good news is that 2022 taxes levy will only be _as_ bad as 2021. The bad news is that the 2021 taxes were already way too high. Mark my words -- once the end comes to all this free pandemic related relief money that municipalities are receiving from State and Federal governments, then our local tax levy will have to go way up to make up the difference if we want to keep all these public programs in place. To make matters worse, since the money supply has been so rapidly expanded recently, there will more upward pressure wages and consequently tax levies, even while businesses may have lower profits due to their own rising labor and supply chain costs. Thus taxes collected on profits might even be lower in future years.

Bottom line: Please cut spending since Ithaca Taxes Gorge Us...

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