BATAVIA – The City Council on Monday set a hearing on the city’s $23.5 million budget for 7 p.m. Feb. 24 in City Hall. The budget remains a work in progress two weeks after its introduction.
The main sticking points are whether the city needs an assistant city manager and whether it has had one for the past eight years.
Jason R. Molino says he was the last assistant and that the post has been vacant since he was promoted to manager in 2006.
However, Sally Kuzon, who was hired to supervise public works, has until recently used the title assistant along with director of public works.
The post pays about $75,000 a year, and some Council members would rather see those funds used to reduce the tax levy more than the 3 cents per $1,000 assessed value proposed in Molino’s budget. For the average homeowner, that’s about $3 a year.
Molino says that an assistant is necessary to oversee the programs and projects he can’t fit into his schedule.
A major one of those projects is the city’s insurance policies and working on getting relief from rising flood insurance premiums for residents who live near the Tonawanda Creek, which flows for three winding miles through the city.
There is also some question about putting Wi-Fi in downtown locations at a cost of $13,000 a year.
The former Genesee Country Mall is one suggested location, but businesses have abandoned the downtown site, which is now occupied by health care-related offices.
The Council has two new at-large members, and both have been critical of services suggested by Molino. Eugene A. Jankowski, a retired police lieutenant, and John Deleo, who worked as a corrections officer, were elected citywide along with Brooks M. Hawley, now Council president.
The budget will raise about $5 million from property taxes, which will drop to $9.27 per $1,000 assessed valuation, and $6 million in sales and use levies.
The budget must be adopted by April 1, when the city’s fiscal year begins.