Property owners will face a tax increase in 1998 under Mayor James C. Galie's proposed budget to be released Nov. 1, but how big the increase will be still is under discussion.
City Administrator Anthony J. Restaino said no layoffs are projected in the 1998 spending plan.
The Galie administration will recommend increasing the police ranks by three patrolmen. The positions would become vacant through promotions if the City Council on Monday approves Galie's request to immediately create one lieutenant's and two captains' positions. The patrolmen positions would not be filled for the duration of this year and not in 1998 unless approved in the new budget, Restaino said.
He said the administration is seeking to create the new positions in response to a court decision ordering the administration to stop using patrolmen to fill in for captains on a routine basis.
No changes are projected in the Fire Department except to continue two new captain's positions that were approved at the last City Council meeting for the same reason. At that time, two new police lieutenant positions also were created.
Restaino said he and other Galie administration staff are still fine-tuning the budget plan.
Restaino said a tax increase is necessary, at least in part, because the Council overestimated some revenues and underestimated some expenses in this year's budget. The Galie administration has criticized some of the Council's budget actions since the day of final adoption last Dec. 14.
Council Chairman Vince V. Anello said the Council made the best decisions it could with the information it had at the time. And, he predicted that many of the projections still may prove accurate by the time the year ends. He said the Council made its decisions based on information from the administration as well as its own research.
Anello also questioned how the city can avoid a tax increase given negotiated pay raises with some city unions and the cost of living increase. Without further staff cuts, he said the only alternative would be to raise taxes. Many officials, including Restaino, believe the city can't cut staff any further without eliminating services.
Restaino said he doesn't foresee any layoffs this year.
Asked why the Galie administration spent all the money the Council appropriated if it was convinced the Council's projections were wrong, Restaino said the administration could have not spent the money, "but we probably would have had a reduction in services."
"So they borrowed from Peter to pay Paul so they could keep services," Anello said.
Restaino said he could not say how much the shortfall would be. He said the $1.4 million in state aid to distressed cities would be used to help make up any shortfall.
Restaino said he wants to complete the budget by this week so there will be time to check it over and make sure all of the figures are correct and pages included so some of the problems, such as missing pages and inaccurate numbers, that occurred last year can be avoided.
The Council will have a month to make changes to the proposal and return it to Galie by Dec. 1.