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Tue., Oct. 6
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No tax increase in proposed 2014 Ogdensburg budget


OGDENSBURG — No property tax increase is anywhere to be found in the proposed 2014 city budget.

City Manager John M. Pinkerton released Friday a tentative $19,102,179 spending plan, $443,270 or 2.3 percent less than this year’s $19,545,449 budget.

The tax rate would stay at this year’s rate of $16.73 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The stability is thanks to St. Lawrence County’s recent decision to increase its sales tax from 3 percent to 4 percent effective in December .

“The reason we have a budget that doesn’t reflect an increase is strictly attributed to a one percent sales tax increase,” Mr. Pinkerton said in his budget message.

The budget decrease is due in part to the Ogdensburg Growth Fund Development Corp. having its own budget separate from the city’s.

The proposed budget’s general fund would increase 2.5 percent from $11,858,577 to $12,156,911.

The city anticipates collecting $3,251,216 in sales taxes in 2014, an increase of about $500,000 over this year’s $2,705,000 total.

The proposed general fund allocations are: police, $3,446,728; fire, $3,270,095; public works, $2,067,359; general government, $1,547,437; culture, $710,239; parks and recreation, $624,003, and $491,050 for all others.

In other budget highlights:

n Employee health care costs for 2014 are projected at $2.8 million, up from this year’s $2.6 million. Mr. Pinkerton predicts a $4 million annual bill in a decade.

n The city’s 2014 tax roll is $272,277,781, down $2.9 million from this year’s $275,265,039.

n There will be no change in the water rates, which will remain at $276 flat and $3.40 per 1,000 gallons.

n Sewer rates will increase 16 percent, from $316 to $368 flat and from $4.84 to $5.62 per 1,000 gallons metered. Mr. Pinkerton said the hike is necessary to cover the estimated $250,000 state-ordered cost of drainage improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment plant by 2014 and the installation of a $4.5 million, 800,000-gallon storm water retaining tank by 2020.

Deputy Mayor Michael D. Morley said it was a poor idea to raise sewer rates to cover the cost of capital projects.

“That’s craziness,” he said. “That’s something that you bond for.”

Councilor Wayne L. Ashley agreed, although he called the proposed stable tax rate “great news.” But he wants the parks and recreation budget to include programs for senior citizens as well as youths.

A few Saturday night dances would be nice, he said.

“I see nothing in there,” Mr. Ashley said. “We have a lot of senior citizens.”

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