Press & Sun-Bulletin (BINGHAMTON, N.Y.) — Binghamton Mayor Rich David released a 2017 budget on Tuesday evening containing reduced tax rates for commercial and residential property owners.
Saying that he refused to “balance City Hall’s budget on the backs of homeowners and businesses,” David unveiled a $92.1 million budget that includes a proposed 0.25 percent residential tax decrease — the first residential tax decrease since 1998 — and a 0.84 percent commercial tax decrease.
“While this residential tax cut is slight, it’s a message to Binghamton homeowners that we’ve heard your cries for tax relief,” David said. The decline is 6 cents for each $1,000 in assessment.
For a home assessed at $80,000, taxes will decrease by $4.80 to $1,870.40.
The reduction in commercial taxes, now in a second consecutive year, is a sign that the city is open for business, David added.
Businesses will see a decrease of 36 cents in taxes per $1,000 of assessed value.
The 2016 budget totaled $90.4 million and included a 0.4 percent increase in residential taxes and a 0.01 percent decrease in commercial taxes.
Last year's commercial tax decrease marked the first time since 1999 that the city had decreased the commercial rate.
Despite the tax decreases, the 2017 budget proposes a $1.7 million increase in the city’s general fund expenses.
The city will also reduce debt by $700,000 under the proposed budget, and by the end of 2016, will have $17.5 million in its reserve funds. That’s nearly twice the amount the city had in 2014.
Decreased taxes and increased savings and spending will come in part from money saved on the city’s street lighting bill and increased revenue from upcoming parking kiosks, David said. Newly installed LED street lights trimmed the city's utility costs by about $400,000 a year, a 60 percent decline in the lighting costs.
Among the other revenues in the budget is a $1.8 million in Community Black Grant Funds.
On the expenditure side, roughly a quarter of the budget — $22.2 million — will go to public safety, which includes the city's police and fire departments. The city will also spend $6.7 million on employee pensions and $5.6 million on street reconstruction.
David received two standing ovations during the speech, and City Council members expressed support for the general numbers presented on Tuesday evening.
The less than one percent decreases in residential and commercial taxes may not seem like much, said City Councilman Conrad Taylor, D-4th District, but they send a clear sign that the city is interested in fostering business and attracting more residents.
"It's the first time that I've been on City Council where we've had a tax cut to both commercial and residential taxes," said City Council President Chris Papastrat, R-5th District. "It seems like (Mayor David) has gone through it with a fine-toothed comb."
City Council will have until Oct. 30 to make changes to the proposed budget, and Mayor David will have until Nov. 6 to veto any of those changes.
City Council then has until Nov. 20 to override a potential veto