“I’m ready to be comfortable with the recommended budget right now,” said Patrick Keane, a member of Rochester City Council, during Monday’s budget review.
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At least one councilor wants spending cuts to be $ 494.4 million, but details were not released during a Monday afternoon review.
“I believe we can find ways to reduce wasteful spending,” said council member Molly Dennis, citing concerns about a proposed 6.5% increase in property tax. âIt is not necessarily the job of the Council to take the position (to propose cuts). We have experts in every department who can say, ‘Well, we can cut a little here or there’ in order to keep real estate affordable for people, because an incredible amount is wasted here and there. ”
Councilor Alison Zelms said city officials had already tried to cut spending and keep the tax levy as low as possible.
“We really took into account the impact of this budget on the taxpayer,” she said, noting that the city is spending $ 1.5 million in federal funds to reduce its dependency on property taxes.
She said the budget also includes spending cuts of $ 3.3 million in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Any additional cuts in total property taxes would reduce funding for urban programs that have no alternative sources of income.
“The library, leisure activities and public safety are primarily supported by property taxes,” she said. “These are things that we hear that are very important to people.”
Zelms said previous proposals to cut spending on Destination Medical Center projects would not affect the city’s property tax collection.
“There is no property tax that is used on the DMC capital projects, so if we adjusted this it would not have any impact on the tax,” she said.
The city manager noted that the DMC projects play a role in attracting new developments that add value to downtown real estate and offset taxes elsewhere in the city.
The tax increase is the increase in the total tax levied, so the 6.5% increase is not necessarily the rate that the individual property tax owners see on their invoices.
Councilor Shaun Palmer said the typical homeowner will see a $ 25 annual increase if the value of their property remains constant.
Dennis pointed out that real estate values ââare rising for affordable homes, which will add to the potential tax burden.
“That’ll be more than that,” she said of Palmer’s estimate.
City Council President Brooke Carlson said this is a challenge for a growing community with increased spending as it tries to keep the services expected.
âIt’s a balancing act for me,â she says.
The Council is asked to take a final decision on the budget at its December 6th meeting after a public hearing on the expenditure plan and the proposed tax charge.