Here is the next edition of Speaking French, the Mayor's Update.
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City Council Updates from Mayor Douglas French
Citizen Emergency Preparedness Planning
The City held a meeting with residents last week to discuss coordinating and implementing a citizen emergency preparedness plan. One of the biggest accomplishments we can achieve is to enhance the City’s emergency plan so that all residents are better informed well prior to an emergency and can take appropriate action as needed. There were many great ideas shared to include establishing pre-determined information centers, assigning neighborhood or block captains, creating a registry for those who may need assistance, and utilizing social media and other communication means. If you are interested in working on the committee to further develop recommendations, please contact me at email@example.com.
The City Manager updated the Council last week and reported that representatives from FEMA were in the City to begin looking at damage on public property. The City is still awaiting reimbursement for damage from the 2011 storms Irene and Lee. Con Edison held a meeting with municipal members to talk about their response, and the company president has committed to making changes and updates to make their procedures more transparent – something that has been demanded from the locales. In addition, the County Executive had a meeting with municipalities to review county-wide issues regarding emergency response and emergency preparedness.
The 2013 Budget
The City is ending 2012 with a surplus of roughly $1.4 million in operations as a result of revenues performing better than budget. Sales tax revenue is expected to be $210,000 over budget, mortgage tax revenues will be $155,000 higher, and building permit revenues are projected at $388,000 over budget. The City also received $300,000 in FEMA reimbursement for Hurricane Irene. As we look to 2013, the Council will be holding its last public hearing and will vote on December 19th on the 2013 City budget. Employee retirement contributions and health care continue to be the largest part of the budget increase. In 2009, the retirement contribution to the NYS fund was $1.2M annually and in 2013 is projected to be $2.7M. For health care, costs for employees and retirees have gone up from $2.8M to $4M over that same period. While the County may have to borrow to pay for pension costs, Rye will pay its pension obligations with cash.
More specifically, the proposed budget breaks down as follows. There is an increase in expenditures of $1,558,910 over 2012. New York State retirement expenses are 15% higher than 2012. Police and Fire Retirement expenses increase by 19% over 2012. New York State determines how much the City must contribute to these retirement systems. Employee health insurance expenses will be 7% higher than 2012. Due to a large Worker’s Compensation Claim, the annual premium will be $279,000 higher than 2012. 2013 budgeted salaries are up 4% over 2012 as many positions were either not budgeted in 2012 or only partially budgeted for, and the City has budgeted for an increase and retroactive pay for the 3 expired union contracts.
The projected 2013 unassigned fund balance (the City’s savings account) has been restored to 13.7% or $4.3M of 2013 budgeted appropriations. Revenue sources are trending up and projections for 2013 include sales tax budgeted at $1,950,000 – $185,000 over 2012. Building permit revenues are budgeted at $1,060,000 – $125,000 over 2012. Mortgage tax is budgeted at $1.2 million - $75,000 over 2012. The 2013 property tax levy is $20,628,240, an increase of $657,730 over 2012. The proposed tax rate by the City Manager is an increase of 3.03% - roughly $97 to the average home in Rye. The 2013 total levy amount is about $52,000 under the tax levy cap. The rules of the tax cap have not changed much since last year. The 2% cap is on the levy - the dollar amount raised by taxation. The tax rate can increase by more than 2%, even though the levy can only increase by 2%. The amount of tax levy allowable without Council override is $20,819,161. Should you have questions or comments on the 2013 budget, please join us at the public hearing or the 19th. The Citizens Finance Committee will issue their comments on December 5th.