Gloversville looks to keep tax rate flat

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Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie

Gloversville Mayor Vince DeSantis presented his $18.29 million 2021 city budget proposal to the Common Council Tuesday, which included no layoffs and kept the city’s tax rate flat at $19.95 per thousand dollars of assessed value.

The proposed budget trims about $400,000 in spending from the adopted 2020 budget, and is less than the $19.3 million in spending requested by the city’s department heads.

The department heads will get another crack at persuading the council for additional spending during all-day budget hearings Friday in the council chamber starting at 9 a.m.

“The last thing we want to do is raise taxes,” DeSantis said, indicating the city will maintain its $19.95 per thousand dollars of assessed value tax rate, first set in 2019.

The $19.95 tax rate is the lowest effective rate adjusted for inflation that Gloversville has had since the 1990s, and former mayor Dayton King and DeSantis have made it a priority to use the city’s fund balance of unspent tax revenues to keep the rate below $20 per thousand.

The city’s 2020 budget included $1.6 million in spending from the city’s fund balance, and DeSantis has proposed increasing the reserve spending to $1.8 million, in part to offset an anticipated 20% cut in state aid.

DeSantis Tuesday said it has been the policy of the city not to fill any vacancies from personnel who retired or were fired since the coronavirus pandemic led to the economic shutdown starting in March. He said there is currently a vacant position in the police department and Department of Public Works, both of which are funded in his proposal, but the jobs have not been filled.

Tammie Weiterschan, Gloversville’s commissioner of finance, provided the council with a breakdown of the adopted budgets for 2019, 2020, the city’s departmental spending requests and DeSantis budget proposal.

For the 2020 budget Gloversville received $2.3 million in New York state aid, but DeSantis’ budget decreased that to $1.841 million.

The mayor’s 2021 budget expects $3.8 million in sales tax, the same amount the city budgeted for 2020. According to Weiterschan’s budget documents Gloversville reduced its expected revenues from sales tax in 2020 down to $3.2 million, and the city so far has collected $2.6 million, with the fourth quarter holiday shopping season yet to come.

DeSantis’ budget proposal includes projections of increases for several different fees. For the 2020 budget the city anticipated getting $55,000 in clerk’s fees, but for 2021 the mayor projects that to increase to $65,000.

Fire Department fees, which were budgeted at $60,000 in revenue for 2019, but only produced $46,342, were dropped down to $45,000 for 2020 and are now projected to be $65,000 for 2021.

DeSantis projects the city’s vacant building fee revenue will be $70,000 for 2021, up $20,000 from the 2020 budget which anticipated $50,000. In 2019 the city anticipated $50,000 in vacant building fees but actually collected $107,050, so far in 2020 the vacant building fee has generated $47,325.

Councilman-at-large William Rowback Jr. said he believes the Friday budget hearing will feature a lot of hot topics in terms of spending items the department heads would like to see restored. He said his bottom line for the 2021 budget is avoiding any layoffs.

“It’s very difficult this year, with our state aid being cut 20 percent, and a lot of the grant programs that we wanted to apply for are being put on the back burner because of COVID-19,” he said. “The federal government has also not been providing enough aid to New York state, and there is a trickle down effect to us, to all of the municipalities and the school districts.”

Rowback said Gloversville’s fund balance reserve should enable it to avoid any mid-year layoffs, which other cities in the Capital Region have warned could be a possibility if the federal government does not help bail New York State out of it’s $60 billion deficit.

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