All city departments will face a three-percent decrease in spending, and the city will increase property taxes by 4.02 percent under the 2012 budget approved Wednesday by the Ithaca Common Council.
The $61,560,000 budget also calls for a 24-percent increase in sewer and water rates and cuts back the size of the city government by leaving 14.5 positions unfunded. These positions are currently vacant and will not be filled under the new budget.
Approved by a vote of 8-2, it is the city’s tightest budget in decades.
At the meeting, Mayor Carolyn Peterson characterized the 2012 budget as the product of tough choices resulting from the current economic climate, and said city department heads had to make difficult decisions to find the necessary cuts.
“It’s a hard, hard budget,” Peterson said.
Alderperson J.R. Clairborne (D-2nd Ward), vice chair of the City Administration Committee, as well as a candidate for Mayor of Ithaca, credited Peterson with leading the way on constructing the budget.
“We had some hard discussions on the budget, but it really shows that [Peterson] did the heavy lifting,” Clairborne said.
While Clairborne said the 2012 budget resulted in some tough cutbacks, he remained hopeful that future budgets would be more amenable.
At the meeting, the council also unanimously approved a 3.81 percent tax levy increase, which is under the 4.17 percent property tax cap passed in June by New York State.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the tax levy approved by the City of Ithaca. The tax levy will increase by 3.81 percent, not 4.02 percent.
Original Author: David Marten