Rochester, N.Y. – Mayor Tom Richards spoke at the City Council Chambers outlining the 2013 – 2014 budget. Despite cuts in federal and state budget cuts a known the budget closes a $42.7-Million gap without raising property taxes or cutting any existing services. However city officials noted that with a shift in the tax burden some homeowners in the city may find themselves paying more in taxes.
The way the budget is structures the City of Rochester sets itself up to run a $60-Million dollar deficit. Mayor Tome Richards said that they have made progress in recent years rectifying that and balancing the budget. “A balanced budget is not that difficult of a thing to do. It’s a basic math.”
For the Mayor part of the math deals with how the Rochester is paying for increased investment without spending from savings. "You have to take advantage of the world you have to be in in the moment, the City of Rochester has a good credit rating and municipal borrowing is very cheap." He says that borrowing the money now to pay for capital and i-t projects saves money in the long term. “If you can borrow for less than 2% over 10-years they are effectively giving it to you for nothing.”
The gap is closed through a $17.3-million reduction in planned capital expenses, a cut of $10.95-million in the city pension fund, a redistribution of $7.5-million by adopting the state’s early retirement program, $2.75-million in healthcare saving, and another $3.2-million in fee increases, fund transfers and other changes.
Additionally the City will add a net 11 jobs; they will create 17 full-time positions but are eliminating six. Those 17 jobs include four city fire fighters and four new workers to help replace the mainframe data systems in the city. “We’ve been kind of shorthanded for about a rear now,” says Rochester Fire Chief Sal Mitrano, when we put out our last engine company into service as part of our four year operational change, we were not funded for the officers of that company.” The hiring of the “these three positions are three lieutenant and a captain according to Mitrano marks the end of the operational change in the entire City Fire Department.
The Lilac Festival may be the last time that the Mounted Patrol will be out in full force. The budget calls for the redeployment of the mounted patrol officers to the tactical unit where they will assist in combating gang violence in the city. “I don’t think it’s a better or worse use of personnel, ”says Rochester Police Chief Jim Sheppard, “our priorities since I’ve come on the job is the preservation of life and violence reduction so it will give us an opportunity to focus on some of the gang enforcement and violence reduction efforts and I am very pleased to have that opportunity.”
All of the details for the 2013 – 2014 Budget can be found at www.cityofrochester.gov/budget