Peekskill Facing 3% Tax Hike in Proposed 2014 Budget

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Peekskill City Manager Anthony Ruggiero has submitted a proposed 2014 budget that calls for a 3% tax increase.

At the same time last year, the city was facing a $4.9 million deficit and the Common Council ended up eliminating nine full-time positions (three of the individuals have since returned to the city’s payroll) while raising taxes 3.8%. If the 3% tax hike holds for 2014, the average Peekskill resident would pay $75 more.

“It’s a lot better than last year. Last year was just a horrendous budget,” Councilman Darren Rigger said. “We took our medicine last year. This year should be a lot easier.”

“The budget is definitely in much better shape this year,” said Mayor Mary Foster. “Last year we had to make some hard choices.”

Rigger said no layoffs are proposed in the workforce, which has 203 full-time employees. In an effort to balance the budget, Ruggiero has suggested utilizing $106,000 from the city’s fund balance. This year, $1 million was designated from fund balance.

At the end of 2012, the council approved a fund balance policy that requires the city maintain a fund balance between 15 and 25% of operating expenses to ensure a favorable rating by the “Big Three” credit rating agencies—Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Group.

Ruggiero reported the city’s fund balance in 2014 will be $7,090,748. The proposed budget is $50.5 million, which is a $618,941 decrease in spending.

“The city must continue to identify opportunities to reduce costs and attract new sources of revenues,” Ruggiero stated. “The city must also continue its efforts in support of existing businesses and attract new businesses that strengthen and expand our economic base.”

The council has started dissecting the spending plan and a formal public budget presentation is scheduled for October 28.

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