Over the last few months, the proposed 2013 budget in Rome has changed dramatically. With a significant decrease in the expected tax hike and a variety of cuts throughout the city's programs, residents say they're grateful for the changes that were made. But residents tell our Cara Thomas that if things don't drastically change within Rome's budget system, they fear for the well-being of their city.
ROME, N.Y. -- When Rome Mayor Joe Fusco announced his proposed 2013 budget in October, community members were outraged.
“Well given the economic times we’ve been in since 2008 I thought the numbers were ludicrous,” says resident Harry Schrefer Jr.
With property tax increases of 3.8 percent in the city and 5.7 percent outside the city walls, residents said they weren’t sure they could sustain that kind of increase. But over the past few months, the common council listened intently to what the community had to say and in turn worked alongside the mayor and his administration to decrease those numbers.
“The mayor and his administration worked very hard and revised all the numbers to come down to a .7 percent tax increase, which is manageable, it doesn’t make it easy though,” said Councilman Frank Anderson.
All that hard work paid off. The city common council unanimously passed the budget Wednesday night. A lot of things throughout the city were cut to get to this final draft, including a controversial $53,000 investment into a new lawn mower for the city.
"These are tough economic times, it's going to be a difficult year and this is definitely a bare bones budget," says Anderson.
While the property tax hike has been lowered beneath the two percent cap, some residents say that’s not enough. They say any more continual increases in taxes are going to hurt the city in the long run.
“We really shouldn’t of had any tax increase at all because all that does is fuels the problem that exists right now, which is a city structure that is out of balance and it’s not good for anyone at this point,” said Schrefer.
Residents say in the future, they hope instead of tax increases, the city will make cuts to unnecessary spending. But council members say alleviating any tax hike is most likely impossible.