No consensus on Canandaigua city budget yet

Heading into the final budget workshop session Thursday night, City Council appears to be debating two budget scenarios — and a whole lot more.

The proposed $15,173,791 budget for 2019 shows an increase of 5.79 percent in spending. The tax levy and tax rate increases, however, could change, depending on which way councilmembers go.

The proposed addition of a youth police officer position, and placeholder spending on possible economic development, public relations and a pesticide programs are at issue.

Also complicating matters: There remains no clear consensus on the level of Canandaigua Fire Department staffing, beyond the addition of two firefighters next year.

Add to the mix the desire of Councilmember Karen White and others to abide by the property tax cap, which would cap the property tax increase at 2.25 percent. Others, including Mayor Ellen Polimeni, said the tax cap is arbitrary and addressing the community’s needs is more important.

Clarity may be determined at the workshop Thursday.

Shifting $250,000 from the money to collected by taxes to the fund balance would achieve the goal of coming in under the tax cap while funding the extra police position — which would be split with the Canandaigua school district — and placeholder spending, according to Councilmember Jim Terwilliger, who is chairman of council’s finance committee.

That would put the tax levy increase at 2.15 percent and tax rate increase at 0.93 percent, although it would increase a structural imbalance in the budget that would have to be made up at some point in the future.

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