Stock image of Ithaca's City Hall

ITHACA, N.Y. — The City of Ithaca Common Council adopted a final 2020 Budget at its regular meeting on Wednesday night.

The $80,397,578 spending plan sets the city tax rate at $11.77 per $1,000 of taxable valuation. The 2020 Tax levy would be $24,442,600.

The adopted budget contains a tax rate increase of 11 cents, up from $11.60 to $11.71 per thousand. Meaning, owners of median-valued $230,000 home in Ithaca would see about a $25 increase in their property tax bill.

That median value is from the 2018 assessment, the county did not reassess the city this year.

Mayor Svante Myrick commented just after the budget and tax rate were unanimously passed, that city officials — largely because of public support for the Green New Deal, had a lot more input from residents than in previous budget seasons.

“I think this is a tremendous budget and a very thorough process,” said Myrick “I do want to thank members of the public. This is not the normal process. Usually, we are alone in here putting this together.”

After significant public comment urging council to allocate as much as possible in support of the Green New Deal, officials acted on an amendment that would allocate just under $35,000 from the general fund to a restricted contingency.

“We all agree that climate change is an emergency…We have acted,” said Alderperson and Chair of the Budget Committee Deb Mohlenoff. We have a responsibility to the taxpayer to make sure pushing something up doesn’t push something else down…I am extremely reluctant to mess with the fund balance. I am more comfortable with the new approach.”

The approach would move $34,678 from the fund balance to restricted contingency to support the green new deal initiative. If the sustainability coordinator, as the new full-time position created in the budget is being referred to in the absence of a title or job description, decides that there is enough work to warrant hiring additional help, Common Council would have the opportunity to vote to release those contingency funds.

Council, while not all in agreement on the amendment, did agree that the onus of funding and implementing a Green New Deal cannot be placed on a single municipality.

“I would hope that the same folks that have come to us urging us to spend more money are also talking to the towns as well as the state,” said Alderperson Seph Murtagh. “I’m committed to it. I will be supporting this tonight. This funding being placed in restricted contingency will mean that council has to act on this.”