Thursday, November 8, 2012

Highlights of the 2013 Budget

At a special meeting of the Common Council tonight, Mayor William Hallenbeck presented the 2013 budget. Here are some of the highlights--more or less in order of importance.

  • The 2013 property tax will be $12.56 per $1,000 of assessed value, which represents a 0 percent property tax increase--assuming, that is, the assessment on your property did not increase in 2012.
  • Fees for parking are being increased. The annual permit to park in municipal lots is doubling--going from $125 to $250. So are the fees to park at meters. Instead of getting an hour for 25 cents, in future 25 cents will buy only half an hour. At present, you can put two quarters in a meter for a maximum of two hours. In the future, it is not clear if you will be able to put four quarters in the meter for two hours or if you will only be able to put two quarters in the meter for just one hour. One hour is not enough time for serious shopping, for enjoying a leisurely lunch or brunch, or for attending a Historic Preservation Commission meeting.
  • Balancing the 2013 budget will require not only writing in $300,000 from the sale of the Dunn warehouse and the lot at Fourth and State streets but also taking an additional $300,000 from the fund balance.
  • The fee for dog licenses to going up. If your dog is neutered or spayed, the increase is only a dollar--from $12.50 to $13.50--but if your is not spayed or neutered, the fee is going from $20.50 to $50.00. 
  • Elected officials are getting raises. The aldermen, who now receive $4,000 a year, are getting a $1,000 a year raise. The Common Council president's salary is going from $5,800 to $12,500.
  • A few years ago, there was talk of abolishing the positions of commissioners. The rationale was that the commissioners--police, public works, youth, aging, fire, police--played important roles when the mayor's position was only part-time, but now, since the mayoral position was full time, the commissioners were no longer necessary. In the 2013 budget, however, the commissioners are, for the first time in history, to receive an annual stipend of $1,000.
  • The proposal to continue the lantern-like streetlamps on upper Warren Street survived all the budget cuts. Money has been written into the 2013 budget to install streetlamps like those found on the rest of Warren Street from Park Place to the intersection of Worth and Prospect avenues.  
There will be a meeting on Monday, November 19, to receive public comment on the 2013 budget. It is assumed that the budget will be online prior to that meeting.

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