Council approves $44.9M city budget

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The 2021 Rome city budget was adopted with few changes during a special meeting Wednesday night.

The $44.9 million budget carries no property tax increase for the fourth year in a row. The plan does call for a 5.75% increase in sewer rates and a flat $50 increase in refuse fees.

“The … property tax rate for 2021 is $20.20 per thousand, exactly the same as 2020,” said Rome Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo in a statement, continuing, “Our objective with the 2021 budget, and all of our previous budgets, is to continue delivering high quality public services in the most cost effective manner for the city.”

“We are very confident the 2021 budget provides the equipment and supplies required to allow our departments to function very efficiently, while being very conservative in the area of capital spending and frugal in the proposed use of fund balance which was reduced in the 2021 budget by $800,000,” Izzo said.

In a forward look, Izzo continued, “Given the current circumstances with the pandemic, which we expect to stretch at least through the first quarter of 2021, we were very cognizant of keeping
our full time workforce intact and this budget achieves that goal.”

“We are cautiously optimistic that a federal stimulus bill will be passed in Washington, and New York State will have the funds available to maintain the city’s state aid funding at its current rate,” the Republican mayor added.

Following the vote, and after some discussion, third ward councilor Kimberly Rogers made a motion to decrease budget lines for IT expenses that included decreasing a website expense for the police department by about $5,000 and amending another budget line indicating a possible purchase of 46 computer monitors at $158 each, to the purchase of 25 monitors.

That amendment was carried.

At the end of the meeting, fifth ward councilor Frank Anderson, reflected, “The budget review is an exercise...we spend a lot of time with department heads...our job is to look at the budget...and say where we are gonna be in 2021.”

The largest expenses in the newly-approved 2021 municipal budget come in as employee wages and benefits at 24.36%. Among other top areas of expenditures include police at 16.76%; public works at 15.78%; and debt service at 11.36%, according to a budget summary.

According to city budget documents, total revenues in the proposed budget — for both inside and outside districts — are to be derived from a property tax levy of $15,358,405; $1,192,003 to
be appropriated from the fund balance and $28,364,022 from other revenue sources, including state aid and sales tax revenue.

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