Unlike the county, the City of Binghamton is facing a potential tax hike. Just hours after Preston's budget announcement, Mayor Matt Ryan addressed the city's finances. As our Elyse Mickalonis tells us, Ryan covered many issues in his speech, but in order to stabilize the budget, he said the city will have to make some tough choices.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Big talk about tax increases and personnel decreases in Binghamton on Monday as Mayor Matt Ryan gave the city's 2013 budget address. The mayor is proposing a 10.8 percent increase for homeowners and a 5.7 percent increase for businesses, news not everyone is happy about.
"That's just too high. We have to work to see what we can do to lower that Rees just no way I want to go in and pass a budget with that type of increase,” said City Councilmember Chris Papastrat.
Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan added, “We've had a lower tax rate than the previous six years and we've done that with appropriating $16 million less in fund balance. That's a record we're very proud of and it shows we're not wasting money.”
Mayor Ryan says despite what numbers were presented in his speech, he’s confident taxes won’t increase that much and he’s willing to work with city council to ensure that.
"We share the frustration of always asking for a little more money. At the end of the day, it sounds like a lot. The tax rate will be lower than I presumed. I guarantee that I'll work with city council,” said Ryan.
Another key issue the city faces is pensions. Ryan says pension costs are up 2,000 percent since 2002 and he's worked with city council to create the city's first Retirement Incentive Program to save taxpayer money. Twenty-eight employees already took the incentive.
“One of the ways in which we've discovered we can cut our costs with personnel is to offer an early retirement incentive. There are several employees who are already up for retirement. This provides additional incentive to do so and still we will maintain staffing, so the services we provide to our residents will be quality,” said City Councilmember Lea Webb.
Papastrat added, “Would help with health insurance payments. We've had quite a few people take us up on that. The first year will be expensive, but there will be considerable savings as this goes on.”
And with just two months to go before the budget has to be in, council members say they’ll continue talking specifics with the mayor.
Mayor Ryan says the city has saved $17 million in tax payer money by winning federal and state grants and reimbursements.
Mayor Ryan’s full address
YNN CNY: Mayor Ryan delivers City of Binghamton budget address
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