AUBURN | Auburn City Manager Doug Selby's latest draft for a proposed 2013-14 budget carries a 2 percent property tax levy increase.
Selby presented his plan to Auburn City Council at its meeting last week. The new draft — a refinement to a version released several weeks ago — comes with less than a month left before the budget needs to be finalized by the end of June. Selby made several refinements to his newest proposal, which identifies eight positions to be cut to find additional savings.
A public hearing on the current budget proposal will be held during this Thursday's City Council meeting.
Selby proposed to cut two upper-level city police positions that are expected to be vacant, due to retirement, this coming fiscal year. Cutting these positions would result in $200,000 of savings, $100,000 for each position, he said.
Four entry-level firefighter positions are currently vacant; Selby proposed that they stay that way for a potential savings of $235,000 in total.
The other two cut positions would be part-time with an estimated savings of $36,000.
Several values were also refined in the most recent budget proposal. The city manager now projects that the proposed increases to parking hours and fees would result in $75,000 in additional revenue as opposed to the original estimate of $150,000.
Selby said it is difficult to estimate just how much the increases in parking would result in additional revenue.
The projected revenue increase from revised codes and building permit feeds was also decreased from $350,000 originally to $200,000 in the latest proposal. Several city councilors have expressed concerns with recent building permit fee proposals, especially residential permit fees.
"We were anticipating a fairly aggressive program," Selby said. "With the council's recent discussion, we're not expecting them to adopt everything."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's pension smoothing plan is rolled into the budget, which would level out payment contributions the city has to make into the state pension program. The pension smoothing plan has been estimated to result in a total of $1.7 million in potential savings on the budget in the next fiscal year.
City councilors have discussed holding a formal vote on whether or not to keep the plan in the budget. The city manager is working with corporation counsel to make the matter into a resolution, one that could be voted on as early as Thursday, Selby said.
"We're trying to honor that request to provide the opportunity for council to vote on that," he said.
Should the council reject the plan from the budget, the city would have to cover the $1.7 million. Closing that gap would most likely result in a significant cut in services, Selby said.
"It's a difficult time in government for all of us to meet the needs of the people without overwhelming them with fees," he said. "I'd like to see us avoid a dramatic cut in services and I know council would like to as well.
"It would be a challenging issue if we don't use the pension leveling program."