ROME — After finishing weekly workshops with each department throughout the city, the Rome Common Council is poised to pass Mayor Jacqueline Izzo’s 2019 proposed budget Wednesday.
The council identified small changes it can make throughout those meetings, but has yet to pull a final decision together on what will change.
During its final workshop meeting this week, the council sat down with city Treasurer Dave Nolan to address the biggest problem the city’s budget faces: the recent increase in salt prices.
Council members found out during an Oct. 9 meeting with public works that the cost of salt went up by about $11 per ton.
That increase puts salt at $64 per ton and with winter weather looming, the council had to figure out where to get the extra money needed for 2019, said Ward Three Councilwoman Kimberly Rogers.
“I think the process worked out really well,” said Rogers, who is also the finance committee chairwoman. “I think what Dave (Nolan) did tonight was extremely helpful because what I was expecting we were going to have to do — and I had already started the spreadsheet — was that we were going to have to go through the book and figure out what we could cut.”
Nolan sat down and moved around some funds and was able to put $100,000 into the supplies category of the snow removal in the general city account.
“The council was very concerned about that,” said Council President Stephanie Viscelli. “Dave (Nolan) was able to resolve that issue for us.”
One way Nolan was able to make the increase was because there was an error in the original budget, which allowed for the purchase of 21 new radios for the police department when they only needed 11, said Ward Seven Councilman Robert Tracy. That change alone saved the city $30,050.
“When the mayor comes out with a budget calling for a zero percent real property tax increase and the department heads are saying ‘This has already been cut, this is not my wish list,’ I’m willing to buy that,” he said. “As of right now, there were a couple of what I would term as small issues, I mean like $3,000. We have not met to finalize this, so my understanding is that we’re going to take this budget as it stands, we’re not going to make any cuts.”
The city will forego purchasing new time clocks, saving $7,100; the parks department will purchase all pool equipment in 2018 to save $2,000 and also purchase all items under land and building expenses this year, saving $6,000.
Eliminating the George Street Parking Garage allows the city to save $10,000 in utilities and fuel, according to Nolan’s calculations.
Izzo’s proposed budget includes no tax increase for residents and a small decrease in the tax levy for inside district residents, which is why the council had very few changes to make, Rogers said.
The city’s general assessment roll has increased by $3,781,610, which makes the actual budget property tax levy $15,267,813, she said.
That increase results in the 2019 budget being $698,879 below the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap.
“Whenever you start with a zero percent — you know it takes a lot to get to zero — and so the years you start with zero, there’s less to cut,” Izzo said. “In a year that you have a zero percent increase and you can afford to buy vehicles, you want to try to stay ahead and get what you can without having to raise taxes. We could have cut two vehicles or three vehicles and lowered taxes, but then you’re behind."
Contact reporter Samantha Madison at 315-792-5015 and follow her on Twitter (@OD_Madison)