On Tuesday, May 16th, the Rochester City Council Committee of the Whole met to further deliberate the proposed FY24 budget.
The City Manager’s original proposed budget, inclusive of City, County, and Schools, was $3,414,376 below the tax cap and represented an estimated $1.85 tax rate increase, however, a contingency of City Councilors expressed interest in making further cuts in order to lower the $1.85 increase.
According to staff, Mayor Paul Callaghan challenged the Finance Department to explore additional ways to lower the tax rate.
In response, the Finance Department suggested adjustments that included $1,328,000 in cuts to City cash CIP projects, $350,000 in cuts to the operating budget, which includes a $250,000 bottom line reduction to the School budget, and increasing non-property tax revenues by $490,000.
Following the City Council’s adjustments to date, the budget is now $5,548,945 below the tax cap, reducing the estimated tax rate increase to $0.82.
Council also added $25,000 to fund cleaning up debris in the Cocheco River, and $18,432 to fund a new part-time Senior Services Coordinator in the Recreation Department for half the year. The Chief Assessor also updated the 2023 Preliminary Net Assessed Valuation since the City Manager’s budget was presented, which included an additional $30 million in assessed value and contributed to some of the reduction to the tax rate impact.
Mayor Paul Callaghan says he’s pleased with the budget deliberations so far and welcomes further discussion before adoption.
“We look forward to adopting a conservative budget that is more than tax cap compliant,” said Callaghan. “We’ve taken a top-down, big-picture approach to these adjustments and our hope is to adopt a budget that works well for working families.”
The vote to adopt the budget is scheduled for the June 6th City Council meeting, however, there will be an opportunity for additional adjustments during that meeting. The vote may be postponed if additional deliberations and adjustments are deemed necessary.
There’s still a chance for the public to weigh in on the FY24 Annual Budget. Public input will be accepted during the meeting on June 6th. For more ways to provide input, visit www.rochesternh.gov/getinvolved.