FULTON, NY – At its current state, the proposed 2017 Fulton city budget shows no increase in the tax rate, standing at $20.51 per $1,000 of assessed value.
The budget process began with Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. and city clerk/chamberlain Daniel O’Brien sitting down with city department heads to discuss each of their needs and wants.
Based on the initial requests, the first draft of the 2017 budget brought a 5.5% tax increase from the previous year. From there, Woodward, O’Brien and all department heads worked together to lower the budget to hold the current tax rate while still meeting needs.
“We took a look at everything and then we went back to them and said, where can we trim?” O’Brien said.
Woodward and O’Brien said department heads helped to control spending while meeting the needs of the city.
“I think we got a good budget,” said Mayor Woodward. “We’ve got some good people working for us that really try hard.”
The total assessed value of the city increased $1,780,146 to total $326,419,421, which O’Brien said was “helpful” to the city maintaining the current tax rate as well.
The proposed 2017 budget as it stands shows a total of $16,246,139 in spending, an increase of $274,465 from the previous year.
Likewise, the proposed budget shows revenue totaling $9,607,928, an anticipated increase of $219,300 from the previous year.
The spike in spending is seen mostly in public safety, totaling 41% of the budget’s appropriations. An additional 10% of spending dedicated to police and fire retirement shows 51% of the budget spent entirely by fire and police.
The police and fire retirement saw an increase of $118,193 totaling $1,593,903.
When combined with retirement for remaining city employees of $287,855 overall retirement spending totals $1,881,758, a large contributor in the budget’s overall spending.
Fire department spending is intended to increase by $114,468 despite a decrease of $20,000 in overtime. The increase is mostly seen from a $110,943 increase in fire department salaries.
Mayor Woodward said the fire department and police department are operating on a contract that expired in 2014. After unsuccessful negotiations the city is set for arbitration with the fire department union, however both sides have agreed to a final sit down before that happens.
The city will begin negotiations with the police department union after reaching an agreement with the fire department union.
Police department spending will increase $25,492 while an increase of $4,819 is set for traffic control.
Police department salaries decreased by $51,406, however an additional $80,000 in anticipated overtime contributed to the department’s overall increase.
Medical insurance for all city employees, despite a decrease in $23,889 still contributes a large portion of the city’s spending totaling $3,276,681.
Code enforcement will see a spending increase of $31,224 after increases in salaries totaling $28,554.
However, fee increases approved throughout the year in the codes department intend to generate more revenue including an increase in rental permits up a total of $4,500 for 2017, an increase in building and alteration permits up a total of $5,000 and several other fees that will create an increase in total revenue.
Despite the increase in spending, a large increase was seen in revenues as well.
Overall revenues have gone up largely in part of the Common Council’s tireless efforts to sell the city’s tax acquired properties.
“Kudos to all you guys too with the sale of tax acquired properties, that was a big part of this. We’re selling them, making a little money on them, getting them back on the tax rolls so they’re taxable again,” O’Brien said to the council.
O’Brien explained that while normally the budget shows roughly $100,000 from the sale of tax acquired properties, this year they see a $136,500 increase to total $236,500.
A number of the tax acquired properties are rented throughout the city as well. The revenue from these rentals is expected to rise $26,800 from the previous year, totaling $72,900.
Similarly, an $8,000 increase in state aid for court security and a federal aid increase of $1,500 have helped the overall increase in revenue, among others.
The water, sewer, and garbage budgets will see significant increases in revenue as a result of rate hikes approved by the council in October.
For a detailed account of the rate changes, click here.
Based on the rate increases passed in October, the water budget is expected to see revenue increase by $295,926 to total $1,558,709 while decreasing spending by $72,510 to total $1,421,335 allowing the city to allocate $137,374 to the water fund balance.
The sewer budget revenues will increase $128,498 to total $1,882,504 after rate increases take effect. However, with an increase in spending of $51,620 totaling $1,921,373 city officials will need to use $38,869 of the fund balance to cover the cost.
The garbage and refuse budget will benefit from the rate increases as well, with revenues expected to increase $151,838.50 to total $1,127,703. Garbage costs will also increase by $131,603 to total $1,125,867 leaving a difference of $1,836 to be put in the fund balance.
A pubic hearing on the proposed 2017 budget has been scheduled to take place on Dec 6 following the public comment portion of the regular common council meeting beginning at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Building, located at 141 S. First St.