After several months of budget sessions, public comments and city staff presentations, the Newburgh City Council unanimously adopted the 2024 Budget on Monday, November 27.
The 2024 City Budget was prepared for the public and city council over the past few months by City Manager Todd Venning in partnership with City Comptroller Janice Gaston and Assistant City Comptroller Jacqueline Luna-Davey.
The adopted managers’ proposed budget amount of $97.6 million accounts for all the city’s income and expenditures. The city’s tax levy was adopted at $23.57 million with additional decreases to the homestead tax rate by 17 percent and non-homestead tax rate by 29 percent. The budget is broken down into various funds with their respective proposed amounts: General Fund at $66.6 million; Water Fund at $8.2 million; Sewer Fund at $13.7 million; Sanitation Fund at $5.5 million and Self-insurance Fund at $3.5 million.
City budget books are in the process of being completed and finalized over the course of the next few weeks and would be submitted to the City Clerk later on.
Decreases to the city’s homestead and non-homestead properties were reported to occur for the fifth consecutive year in the city. Homestead properties are classified as one, two or three family homes or condos. Non-homestead properties are four or more family homes and some condos. The assessed value of taxable properties, homestead and non-homestead, has also been reported at $1.9 billion, a 28 percent increase from last year’s budget.
The budget continues Newburgh’s $100 million infrastructure improvement plan with a 20 percent boost to public works spending, including $1 million for paving and road resurfacing; implements new collective bargaining agreements, including a 28 percent increase in police officer salaries; and reduces the use of fund balance in line with the city’s multi-year financial plan.
With the General Fund as reported, the city would decrease levels of fund balance while keeping service levels high, improve training and performance of city departments and look to implement collective bargaining agreement wage increases. With the Enterprise Funds, which account for the city’s water, sewer and sanitation as previously reported, the city would see a 6 percent water rate increase, a 6.48 percent sewer rate increase, no increase to the sanitation rate, fund capital needs for the sewer fund and again look to implement collective bargaining agreement wage increases.
Prior to the vote, the city council and Venning discussed a letter from the Office of State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli dated November 17 that addressed the cities fund balance appropriations, New York State Touring Route Program revenue, metered water sales, sewer usage, personal services, police overtime, city contingencies and the city tax overlay. A total of eleven recommendations were listed in the letter by the comptroller’s office for the city council to review.
For city council, the recommendation to lower the estimate for sale of metered water or pass a resolution to raise water rates prior to the adoption of the budget would later pass that same night.
Another recommendation was to adopt a budget that includes a tax levy no greater than the tax levy limit (tax cap) unless a local law is adopted to override the limit. Venning reassured the council that the levy is under the cap and the local law was adopted as a precaution.
The other recommendations included the following: develop a plan to maintain fund balance at a reasonable level to ensure funds are available in case of unanticipated expenditures or a shortfall in revenues during the fiscal year; review the amount of fund balance appropriated for the water fund and amend to the amount that is available; review the estimates for New York State Touring Route Program revenue and expenditures and amend as necessary; review the estimate for sewer usage revenue and amend as necessary; consider including a reasonable estimate for contingencies in the budget; review the estimate for personnel services and amend as necessary; review the estimate for police overtime and increase it to an appropriate level or implement changes in procedures to manage costs within budget amounts; consider establishing a reasonable estimate for a tax overlay in the budget and ensure the budget presented to the public and posted to the City’s website are consistent.
Venning noted that additional recommendations from the state comptroller’s office were reasonable and the city council acts upon each year with the budget.
“Everything in the letter has a chance to be resolved before it’s adopted by the city council,” said Venning. “The budget that the city council is voting on and or amending tonight [November 27] has those changes incorporated, and the ones that aren’t incorporated have been discussed with the council.”
The police overtime within the budget, which was reported at $1.1 million, continues to be a concern for Mayor Torrance Harvey but he hopes that can be addressed with further discussions. He would also like vacancies filled and increases to overall officer retention.
The city council also approved on Monday night a resolution certifying base percentages, current percentages, current base proportions and adjusted base proportions for the city. With the calculated percentages from the levy, these figures help determine the city tax rates.
Three spreadsheets which help provide a breakdown of the percentages are currently available on the city website. The first sheet identifies base percentages based on the assessed value of the property, the second sheet is the adjusted base proportions based on the levy and the assessed value of the property and the third sheet identifies proportions which can be adjusted to determine the tax rates.
A public hearing on the city budget was previously held on November 13, with requests made for more investment into the staff of corporation counsel, assistance with community cleanups and outreach and thanks from the Conservation Advisory Council for their budget support.
All city budget materials are currently available on the city website and can be accessed via the city departments tab and selecting the Finance/Comptroller tab.