CITY OF NEWBURGH – City Manager Michael Ciaravino presented a proposed 2018 budget Tuesday night that would reduce the property tax rate for homeowners by 29 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
The budget would hold the line on the rate charged to businesses and other non-homestead properties at 2017’s level.
And the budget’s property tax levy will increase about 1 percent, to $19.65 million from $19.46 million. Ciaravino said the city could raise the levy to $20.09 million and still stay within the state’s mandatory cap, but that would mean tax-rate increases.
Ciaravino told the City Council that in order to achieve his proposed tax rates, “Some hard choices had to be made.”
Those included not filling eight positions that are currently vacant, reducing some jobs from full-time to part-time, and possibly laying off some employees during the year. Those cuts will make it more difficult for the city to deliver services that residents expect, he said.
Ciaravino did not indicate how many employees might be laid off or which positions could be eliminated.
The proposed budget includes a $22,293 reduction in spending in the general fund. Overall spending, including the water, sewer, trash collection and self-insurance funds, would also drop slightly, to $62.78 million from $63.12 million.
Water and trash pickup fees would not increase, but sewer rates would be raised by 4 percent, with some of that money going toward the $40 million the city will need to raise between now and 2025. That is the estimated cost of a project mandated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to separate the city’s sewage and stormwater runoff disposal systems.
Mayor Judy Kennedy said the project will prevent sewage from going into the Hudson River during heavy rains.
“If we don’t do it, we are subject to fines,” Kennedy said.
The first work on that project is scheduled to begin in the next few weeks on Grand, Clinton and Montgomery streets.
Ciaravino also is calling for “radically revamping the overtime structure” in all departments, with less overtime money proposed for both the police and fire departments.
In 2017, the city budgeted more than $1.12 million for police overtime, and so far has spent $839,000. The department requested $1.01 million for 2018, but Ciaravino only proposed spending $440,703.
For the fire department, the 2017 overtime budget was $729,388.27, and $614,803.68 has been spent so far. The department requested $671,200 for next year, but Ciaravino proposed only $369,563.
The council must adopt a final budget by the end of November.