OGDENSBURG – Ogdensburg City Council will hold a public hearing Monday regarding the budget.
The tentative budget would raise the tax rate from roughly $19.67 to $19.68 per $1,000 of assessed value and cut seven positions though attrition, but changes to the proposed fiscal plan are likely over the next month.
In her address to the council City Manager Sarah Purdy says this equates to a city tax bill increase of $1.50 for budget purposes for a homeowner with an assessed value of $100,000 whose assessment did not change. The total tax bill will increase more than that amount due to the increase in the county’s chargeback to the city for worker’s compensation, but that increase will be in the county tax portion of the bill.
Overall spending will increase to $20.5 million about $175,000 above the previous year.
While the hike in the tax rate is modest, more substantial increases are proposed for water and sewer fees.
Water rates are increasing $33.50 per year, or 10 percent.
The annual flat rate for 2017 is $334, billed in two $167 payments. For 2018 the annual flat rate will be $367.50, billed in two $183.75 payments.
Sewer rates are increasing $37 per year, or 10 percent. The annual flat rate for 2017 is $368, billed in two $184 payments. For 2018 the annual flat rate will be $405, billed in two $202.50 payments.
Both the water and sewer rates have not increased in the past two years.
To stay within the taxcap without using up the city’s low fund balance, the budget proposes the elimination of seven positions through attrition.
Six full-time positions are eliminated by jobs already vacated and a seventh one will be partway through 2018, thus slowing the increase in payroll costs.
The six positions include two police officers, two Parks and Recreation employees, and two Department of Public Works employees. The position funded only partway through 2018 in anticipation of a retirement is a firefighting job.
Another area expected to provide major savings for the city is a change in health insurance. The city plans to move away from being self-insured in 2018, which will eliminate the “huge financial risk exposure the city currently faces by not carrying stop-loss insurance, and also will provide improved management of medical costs,” Purdy said in her proposal.
In order to stay within the tax cap, the proposed budget also reduces the city’s contributions to the Remington Museum and the Ogdensburg Library by $20,000 each.
Contributions for the Chamber of Commerce, Pride and Beautification, Ogdensburg Command Performance, the Garden Club and Forsyth’s Rifle are kept at the 2017 funding level rather than supporting any requested increases, Purdy says.
Purdy says projections show sales tax revenue trending upward with a 5.5 percent or $192,501 increase proposed for 2018, while state pension costs for 2018 have decreased.