Rome cost-cutting measures through pandemic help avoid tax hikes in 2021 budget

Rome Mayor Jacqueline Izzo presents 2021 city budget proposal.

Posted: Oct 22, 2020 4:35 PM
Updated: Oct 22, 2020 5:08 PM

UTICA, N.Y. – Rome Mayor Jacqueline Izzo released the nearly $45 million 2021 city budget proposal this week, as city officials continue to identify the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the proposal, the budget funds come from the following:

  • $28.3 million from revenue other than property taxes
  • $15.3 million from property tax levy
  • Nearly $1.2 million from fund balance appropriation

In May, the city took cost-saving measures after projecting a $2 million loss in sales tax revenue due to the pandemic, and facing a 20% cut in state aid. Cuts included closing playgrounds and pools for the summer, and eliminating summer park staff entirely.

Despite the grim predictions, Izzo says sales tax revenue steadily increased from February to September, and the city doesn’t expect to lose as much as originally projected.

Izzo says the city has been functioning with 60% of its full staff since June 1, and had to postpone some public works projects to save money. Eighty city workers have also been participating in the Shared Work Program, which means some employees work 60% of the time and collect unemployment two days per week.

The budget will depend heavily on the amount of state and federal funding the city receives, and to offset that uncertainty, some of the strategies used to save money in 2020 will be carried over to 2021, according to Izzo. She says the hiring freeze will remain in place until the funding decisions are made at the state and federal levels.

Department budgets have also been drastically reduced, and the Capitol Improvement Plan will be very minimal, according to Izzo.

While the city has cut costs with hiring, Izzo says public safety is still a priority, and recruits will be hired in the police department.

The city does not plan to tap into reserves any further next year, as the cost-saving measures are effectively helping the city recover.

As far as taxes, Izzo says property taxes will not increase, and water rates will remain steady for 2021, but there will be a 5.75% increase in sewer rates and a $50 hike in the refuse fee.

Izzo discussed the budget proposal at the common council meeting on Oct. 21. A public hearing will be held Nov. 11.

The full budget document can be viewed here.

Read Izzo’s message regarding the budget is below:

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