By Alberto Gilman
The proposed City of Newburgh 2023 budget was presented to the city council and general public on Tuesday, October 11 with new position considerations, continued decrease in tax rates and goals to address ongoing department needs. It was prepared by Newburgh City Manager Todd Venning, along with City Comptroller Janice Gaston.
Venning stated to the city council and public that the currently proposed budget before them was difficult to balance due to the inflation and cost increases across the country. However, the city was able to reduce overtime projections of about a million dollars. In the last several weeks according to Venning, the city had received a final stress score of 0 from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, a decreasing environmental stress score for three years in a row and an A3 bond rating by Moody’s Investment Services.
Several listed goals for the city with this budget included keeping service levels at a high rate, enhancing operational capacity and oversight which will lead to higher performance by the city’s departments, and increase utility user fees. One specific goal that has been discussed at most meetings over the past few months has been the city’s codes department which with the proposed budget will look to increase the size of that specific department.
The first public presentation made by Venning was on the General Fund for the city which is currently proposed at $63.78 million. The city’s budget general fund in 2022 was previously adopted at $54.5 million. “The city operates several funds. We have a general fund which is our chief operating, and we have three enterprise funds which include water, sewer and sanitation,” said Venning.
The highest revenue sources for the city listed in order started with the real property tax at $23.6 million. This figure saw an increase of $607, 207 over 2022. The non property tax at $16.5 million saw an increase of $2.73 million over 2022 and state aid at $11.3 million with an increase of $3.35 million over 2022. These revenue sources saw increases along with several other categories going into 2023. The only two categories in the General Fund that decreased were the Real Property Taxes (Other) and Department Income. Another alternative revenue source that will assist the city is the hotel tax that was passed by the state assembly, state senate and the office of Governor Kathy Hochul. “We will be able to implement that in the future and what that means is that [hotel tax] will be another revenue source that, is not derived from the taxpayers,” Venning said.
Discussing the expenses portion of the budget, the salary line at $20.5 million and benefits line at $17.2 million are the highest percentages out of the budget. Both budget lines make up 59% of the proposed budget. Continuing on with the budget, Venning briefly touched upon the budget with the police department that salaries could see increases, but are not guaranteed. Salary increases could then address the retention difficulties within the police department. Other plans for the police department in the proposed budget include equipment upgrades, searches for new facilities, additional training and reduction to the overtime.
Venning continued along with addressing the codes department that has been mentioned many times in previous council meetings by the public. “The codes department needs significant improvement. So, one of the things that this budget calls for by working with myself and, the department heads and the council with the building inspector, it calls for seven new positions in the codes department,” Venning said. “That includes four building safety inspectors, two senior code compliance officers and an additional clerk to assist the problems with the mail.”
The additional positions to the codes department within this budget will help address the 7,600 rental inspections that should take place every year in the city, according to Venning.
The proposed budget also calls for a part-time arborist position in the parks department, working supervisor to the parks department and department of public works, an animal control officer for the police department, a full-time parking enforcement officer with clerk, a request for a fire commissioner and a deputy superintendent for the water department.
Other budget lines mentioned in the proposed budget address the public relations firm that the city council would like to have help in city promotions and communications. An alternatives analysis for the relocation of the police department and city hall either at 123 Grand Street or 155 West St has also been allocated. Street camera replacement, a land survey for Crystal Lake, the continuation of the citizen police academy and additional firefighter training have also been included in the budget lines.
Further along in the presentation, Venning reported that the taxable assessed value in the city in 2022 is $1.48 billion. This rating has continued to increase since 2016. For city homestead tax rates, they will be decreasing again for the fourth straight year and non-homestead tax rates will also be decreasing. The breakdown of those rates are available on the city website in the regular meeting livestream recording. “As the property values are rising and as we are stabilizing the tax levy, the rates are decreasing and we’re hoping to keep that stable for everyone out there,” said Venning.
In the Enterprise Funds portion of the budget, the metered water rate would increase by six percent, sewer would increase 108% of water rate and the sanitation fund is recommended to increase in user fees by five percent. The Enterprise Funds total is $26.1 million.
The entire proposed budget can be found at cityofnewburgh-ny.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/196 on the city’s website. On November 14 there will be a public hearing on the proposed budget and city council will vote on the adoption of the city budget on November 28.