Updated 10/04/2012 09:04 AM
City council battles bulky budget
In a little more than a month, the City of Binghamton's budget will be due and council members are working to lower the proposed property tax increase of nearly 11 percent. YNN's Chris Whalen updates us on why the city's spending plan has been so complicated this year.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- When Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan delivered his budget address a little more than two weeks ago, he himself admitted his proposed 10.8 percent tax increase wouldn't stick. A comforting thought for taxpayers, but a puzzling one for some council members.
"Why wouldn't have the mayor and his department heads dwindled it down to where they thought it was a bare-bones budget, rather than giving it to us where we would have to go through and try to find the cuts that they anticipated," said Councilman Chris Papastrat.
Ryan says the proposed increase is half of what it was when the budget was originally presented to him and the figure of 10.8 percent is a means to get the city back on track.
"My job as mayor at this point with not that much time left is to try to leave the most stable fiscal environment that I can for the next mayor, he or she, and that's what I'm trying to do," the mayor said.
A huge portion of the budget that continues to cause spending problems is pension costs. They've gone up by two thousand percent in the last ten years, Ryan says, and this year Binghamton is dealing with an extra $2.2 million in pensions that was deferred to 2013 from 2012.
"That $2.2 million certainly puts the sand in the gears, it would have certainly would have been a lot easier to do the budget without that," Papastrat said.
Members on last year's City Council agree it may not have been the best decision, but one that was made under the assumption that there would be more savings from last year that could have helped with this year's budget.
"It went from 920-some thousand that we thought we were going to be able to rollover to 160 thousand that we were able to rollover, so in retrospect, maybe not," said councilwoman Teri Rennia.
The good news is, cuts are being made as council continues to go through the budget line by line and they ensure that 10.8 percent certainly will not be the tax increase.