ITHACA, N.Y.—Wednesday will likely be the public’s last opportunity to formally give input on the City of Ithaca’s proposed 2023 budget. The budget, as last amended, will probably be the version put to a vote on Nov. 2, but it’s still possible for further amendments to be proposed, and funding decisions deliberated over before a final show of hands by Ithaca’s Common Council.
In total, the Common Council has approved an additional $634,753 in spending on top of Lewis’ proposed budget, bringing the current budget for 2023 to about $90.5 million — a big jump from the City’s $84 million 2022 budget.
Acting Mayor Laura Lewis’ proposed 2023 budget placed the City of Ithaca’s total spending at $89,921,130, of which $29,010,831 would be raised through property taxes — a 9.47%, or more than $2.3 million increase over 2022’s tax levy.
However, Ithaca’s taxable assessed property value grew from over $2.2 billion in 2022 to over $2.4 billion in 2023. Currently, the proposed city tax rate going into Wednesday’s meeting is $12 per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value, an increase from 2022’s tax rate of $11.89 per $1,000. Under the current proposed rate, a home worth $300,000 in the City of Ithaca would expect to pay $3,600 in city taxes.
Some of the amendments approved by Common Council include one that made $52,843 available for the Ithaca Police Department—which currently has 15 vacancies—to potentially hire 7 officers positions by Dec. 2023 that previously weren’t funded (this would just be one month of their salaries and is basically aspirational, contingent on the city actually being able to attract police officers; direct $50,000 to the Unbroken Promises Initiative, a youth outreach program focused on building Black investment in the West End; and to contribute $40,000 to Friends of Stewart Park’s splash pad renovations at Stewart Park.
The budget discussions have put a spotlight on the staffing challenges that the City of Ithaca is facing. Particularly, the city’s Department of Public Works is facing severe personnel shortages. Superintendent of Public Works Mike Thorne told the council during his budget presentation that the department is down 30 employees, from engineers, to workers in streets and facility maintenance. The City of Ithaca has begun to explore contracting with Casella, a waste management company, to handle garbage pick up.
The city’s budget materials can be viewed on its website. Wednesday’s meeting will be broadcast on YouTube live, and is scheduled to begin at City Hall at 6pm.
Correction (11/02/2022): An earlier version of this article incorrectly attributed a statement to Alderperson George McGonigal that he would potentially work to direct more city funding to Black Hands Universal, a local nonprofit. Additionally, the city’s tax rate was initially described incorrectly as a percentage which has been corrected, and language clarified.