GLOVERSVILLE — The Common Council presented its budget this past week, which includes a tax rate cut of 69 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Councilman-at-Large Vince DeSantis said the council was able to find reductions to Mayor Dayton King’s $18.6 million budget proposal, a collection of small cuts that added up to between $100,000 and $200,000. But the council also increased proposed spending on some economic development plans.
DeSantis said the council pulled $250,000 from the city’s estimated $7 million fund balance to reduce the total tax levy and cut the proposed tax rate from $20.64 to $19.95 per $1,000 of assessed value.
“What was proposed was, even before we got started, the idea of making a big investment in economic development,” DeSantis said.
The Gloversville council is expected to hold its public hearing on the budget on Nov. 13 and then vote on the budget’s adoption Nov. 27.
“One thing we want to do is a marketing study,” DeSantis said. “Unlike many cities, we have high-speed fiber optics installed in our downtown. We feel that we could attract internet businesses, business startups and create a demand for live/work spaces in the upper stories of our downtown.”
DeSantis, long a vocal proponent of economic development in the city, said the council’s budget wants to “piggy back” on the Labella Associates’ downtown development strategy, which the city paid for last year to craft a blueprint for strengthening the city’s downtown economic health and vibrancy.
“Part of that was us doing a marketing study,” DeSantis said.”And we don’t think it would be very expensive to narrow it down to what is the target specifically for Internet-based businesses, because I think we’re pretty attractive in that regard.”
DeSantis broke down some of the additional spending items in the council’s proposed budget:
• $100,000 for a downtown Internet business marketing study. The city will look to reduce that through a matching grant.
• An increase in the city’s share of funding for Gloversville Downtown Development Specialist Jennifer Jennings, from $25,000 to $50,000.
• $300,000 earmarked for a proposal to form a Glove Cities demolition team with the city of Johnstown and/or possibly Fulton County.
• $25,000 to help fund the Center for Regional Growth’s downtown business incubator project.
King’s budget proposal already calls for spending $1.04 million of the city’s fund balance, its reserve of unspent tax revenues, to balance the 2019 budget.
The council’s revisions of the spending plan calls for an additional $600,000 in reserve spending, bringing the total siphoning from that fund to about $1.6 million. In the current budget, the city anticipated spending $1.2 million of he fund balance, but ended up spending about $250,000 less.
Some critics of King and the current council have suggested the city should be more conservative and increase taxes in order to avoid a fiscal cliff in future years.
King has projected the city’s growing annual expenses, primarily due to contractually-guaranteed salary and benefit costs, could spend down all of the city’s reserves within five or six years, unless sales tax revenue continues to grow.
Gloversville 1st Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss said the council’s proposed 2019 budget is a bid to promote enough economic growth in the city to stabilize its finances without the need for dramatic tax increases.
“Also, I question what will happen if we just keep growing this pot of money,” Weiss said. “I question how it will look when we go out for grants and we have all of this fund balance, and we aren’t willing to use any of it.”.
Gloversville recently lost out in the third round of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Council’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant. The award went to the city of Amsterdam, which has accumulated a $7 million to $15 million general fund deficit over a period of years.
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