Committee advances $41.47M city budget
KINGSTON >> A Common Council committee has forwarded to the full council a $41.47 million city budget for 2017. The proposed spending plan is slightly larger than the one proposed by Mayor Steve Noble.
The budget advanced by the Finance and Audit Committee on Monday totals $41,467,784, which is $19,437 larger than Noble’s plan but also adjusts revenue expectations to maintain the property tax levy set by the mayor.
The budget calls for the 2017 tax levy to be the same as 2016’s, $17,650,940, but residential
and commercial tax rates are expected to decrease slightly, thanks, in part, to an increase in Kingston’s overall assessed value.
Proposed spending in the budget is $523,026, or 1.28 percent, higher than in 2016.
The budget still must be approved by the full council and signed by the mayor to take effect.
The committee on Monday also gave initial approval to a shift in the percentage of the property tax levy paid by residential and commercial properties. The proposed 20 percent shift means residential, or homestead properties, would pay about 54.1 percent of the overall property
tax levy, while commercial, or non-homestead properties, would pay 45.9 percent.
The result would be a 2017 residential tax rate of $10.10 per $1,000 of assessed property value, a decrease of 6 cents, or 0.6 percent, from the 2016 level; and a commercial rate of $18.13 per $1,000, a decrease of 18 cents, or just under 1 percent.
City lawmakers have held several special finance meetings over the past month to discuss Noble’s proposed budget. Those meetings culminated with Monday night’s session, which lasted more than four hours.
Part of the discussion at Monday’s meeting focused on slight adjustments to some budget lines and offsetting those changes by altering revenue projections.
“Any change that you make is going to affect the budget,” city Comptroller John Tuey told the committee.
Tuey said that, in general, the city hits its overall revenue projections.
Alderwoman Maryann Mills, D-Ward 7, made several suggestions, including keep an environmental educator position part-time rather than making it fulltime in 2017. Mills said she was unclear about grants to fund the position.
The finance committee, which Mills does not sit on, ultimately opted to keep the change proposed by Noble, who was an environmental educator for the city before being elected mayor a year ago.
Mills also said the city should find money to hire at least a part-time employee to administer Kingston’s
new asset management system. She said the city paid for asset management and it would be shameful not to move forward with it.
Mills suggested eliminating raises for some “nonaligned” employees, which was rejected by the committee, or eliminating a new part-time clerk job in the corporation counsel’s office. She also questioned a proposed $17,000 raise for Corporation Counsel Kevin Bryant.
Additionally, Mills said she was opposed to Noble’s plan to double the cost of metered on-street parking in the city and begin charging fees for parking in municipal lots. She also said non-profit organizations that hold festivals in Kingston should pay for the city services they use.
A majority of the committee disagreed.