AUBURN — The early proposed 2022-23 budget for the city of Auburn calls for a potential 2.28% increase in tax levies.
City Manager Jeff Dygert presented the draft spending plan to the Auburn City Council at its meeting Thursday. The presentation slides indicated that the first draft budget included a tax increase of 2.28%, or $285,000. The general fund would be $43,949,604, up 7.7%, or $3.1 million, from the revised 2022 budget.
Dygert said at the meeting that the city’s current funding shortfall – which he says is “the difference between the revenue we project coming in and the spending going out” is about $3.4 million. dollars. He said the city can cover this shortfall in a number of ways, including federal American Rescue Plan Act funds issued to the city that can be used for this purpose. A portion of the city’s fund balance could also be used.
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“We have a healthy fund balance right now, it’s about $5 million. That’s at the high end of what we’re allowed to have in the fund balance,” Dygert said.
Dyger added that the budget proposal includes a total tax rate cut of 14.9%. However, the proposed tax rate would be lower due to the recently enacted increase in the assessed value of most municipal properties. For this reason, the lower tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value does not necessarily translate to a lower property tax bill for individual property owners. Dygert said that during the budget process over the next few weeks, that 14.9% figure “could fluctuate quite a bit.”
The first spending plan was built around a 6.3% increase in sales tax over actual 2021 sales tax collections of about $650,479, Dygert said.
“What we’re actually seeing over the last few months is about a 20% increase in sales tax collections from 2021,” he said. “So there’s a significant margin here. We don’t want to be too aggressive with that, but there is some margin to reasonably expect us to collect more sales tax than what we’ve budgeted here. ”
The presentation indicated that solid waste collection rates will need to increase in order to cover a $1.18 million shortfall in the solid waste fund. A presentation regarding recommendations on this subject is currently scheduled for the April 28 board meeting.
Following Dygert, council heard presentations regarding City Utilities, Public Works, Office of Planning and Economic Development and Code Enforcement, City Clerk, and Engineering Services.
During a 10-minute break between presentations, Councilor Jimmy Giannettino pointed out that the budget proposal heard by council was early, with recommendations from staff in a process that will continue for a few months.
“I think what you’re seeing tonight is a very fiscally sound budget, that possible budget,” he said.
He praised the potential tax rate cut and said he looked forward to the continuation of the budget process. Regarding property assessments, he said these are based on the value of the property.
“My appraisal has gone up $50,000, but it’s only $2,500 less than the bank appraisal from three years ago, so the appraisal process is compliant. I would prefer my home appraised what it’s worth and have a lower tax rate, right, because your house is worth what it’s worth and the tax rate is lower,” Giannettino said. “So I think basically everything is online.”
Earlier in the meeting, the board approved the 2022 retail water rate. The passing resolution said it would be a “new quarterly retail water rate of 3.35 $ per hundred cubic feet and a new monthly retail water rate of $2.99 per hundred cubic feet effective May 1, 2022.”
Council Timothy Locastro was the only no to vote against the impending change.
“A raise is a raise. Whether it’s a water or sewer increase or a tax increase, I won’t vote for any increase. When you’re in business, if you miss out, you find a way not to miss,” he said. “I think this city needs to do that in certain situations. I mean, ratepayers are being hit with increase after increase after increase and it has to slow down”
Locastro praised the work of the utility department. Giannettino said the increase will be based on the amount used, “it’s not an increase across the board.”
Managing Editor Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.