ITHACA, N.Y. — City officials and residents got a first look Wednesday at Mayor Svante Myrick’s proposed 2020 budget, which includes a tax levy and tax rate increase. It also includes funding to implement the city’s Green New Deal.
The tax levy will increase by 2.99%. It also contains a tax rate increase of 11 cents. The rate is increasing from $11.60 to $11.71 per thousand of assessed property. So, owners of median-valued $230,000 homes (based on 2018 assessment) in Ithaca would see about a $25 increase in their property tax bill.
Before diving into the numbers, Myrick said the city has seen a growth in expenditures, particularly when it comes to staff. In the last three years, the City of Ithaca has added 40 new staff members. “That’s really starting to show itself,” Myrick said. Since last year, wages are up $650,000 and health insurance is up $680,000, Myrick said.
Still, the proposed budget includes a modest addition of new staff for 2020, including hiring someone to implement the city’s Green New Deal. Including the staff hire, the city will be committing more than $250,000 to implement the Green New Deal, which passed in June.
Several people during the public comment period of Common Council on Wednesday urged the city to act on its Green New Deal, which sets goals for the city to be carbon neutral by 2030 with 100% of government operations using renewable electricity by 2025 and emissions from the city’s vehicle fleet reduced by 50% by 2025.
Tompkins County is also in the midst of budget season and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a key theme in its 2020 budget as well. Over the next 15 years, the county intends to invest $100 million to get as close to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions as possible.
With its 2020 proposed budget, the City of Ithaca also intends to add a deputy fire chief and a new half-time assistant city attorney.
The budget includes funding for the same number of police officers, new police vehicles, new pumper trucks, and permanent funding for two of the four firefighters funded through a SAFER grant.
In 2016, the Ithaca Fire Department received a $634,000 federal grant to fund the salary of four firefighters for two years. When awarded, the IFD said it was a good start to getting closer to the number of firefighters they need to handle their call volume.
The city will also be boosting its contribution to two collaborative programs — the Community Housing Development Fund and the community outreach worker program. The budget also includes a 1.5% increase in funding for TCAD, the Human Services Coalition, Southside Community Center and Community Science Institute.
There will be no change in sidewalk, sewer, trash tag or waste fees, Myrick said, but the water rate will increase from $7.88 to $8.67.
Moving forward, city departments can make requests and local residents will have a chance to weigh in at a public hearing planned for 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10 in Common Council Chambers.
Read through the budget documents available online here.
Have questions about the budget or want something explored further? Email Managing Editor Kelsey O’Connor at email@example.com.