The City Manager, Joseph Donat, announced the proposed 2021 fiscal year budget at the Tuesday, October 13 Council meeting.
The proposed budget has kept the same tax levy, meaning there will be no increase to taxes, and “contains a number of other positive changes to the city.”
The total general fund is $49,146,430 and the tax levy remains at $22,184,692. The 2021 dollar change for a $150,000 assessed value is at a decrease of $588.19 for homestead and $659.06 for non-homestead.
“The rate has substantially decreased so whatever you would pay would be much less than you would have to pay if the levy didn’t stay the same and the rates didn’t decrease substantially,” said City Comptroller Todd Venning.
Donat stated “A lot of the great news is a direct result of the finance department.”
Some other highlights of the budget is the ability to fully fund Mayor Torrance Harvey’s street sweeper initiative, the creation of a Chief Diversity Officer position and the commitment to the arts with a tangible amount to fund programs in the City.
Looking at the budget proposal, Councilwoman Meija joked, “If I was there to lift you, I would,” in response to Venning’s hard work.
Donat reminded listeners at the Council meeting of last year’s proposed budget, where difficult decisions were made.
“There were skeptics out there last year,” said Donat. “Some feared the worst and some worked to instill the fear across the City. We hoped for the best and best is what prevailed.”
One reminder of the hard work of the City officials is the financial fiscal stress score of zero, which is “directly related to the difficult decisions we made last year.”
The overall goals of the budget carried over from last year and include capturing all expenditure needs, strategically utilizing fund balance, increasing oversight and reducing overspending and balancing the budget in light of reduced sales tax and state aid.
“We’ve been able to renew our focus, rebuild our city and lay the groundwork to reimagine what the road ahead might look like,” said Donat.
The initial response of the council members seemed to be positive.
“The priorities of rebuilding, reconstructing and reimagining the City for next year are all priorities that we all agreed,” said Meija. “I want to make sure we set ourselves up for success.”
“Last year at this time the budget projections were very bleak and painful for the staff and family affected by reductions,” said councilman Robert Sklarz. “The budget you saw tonight was a good sign things are turned around for this year.”
There are no layoffs in this proposed budget.
Following the proposed budget, there will be further meetings if needed to review revenues and expenditures. There will be a public hearing on the proposed budget on November 9. The council meeting to adopt the 2021 budget is on November 23.