In the wake of the Common Council’s 8-2 vote on the City’s 2013 budget, Ithaca Now spoke with Mayor Svante Myrick, who explained what this budget will mean for Ithaca in the coming years.
What was the inspiration behind some of the larger movements that you’ve made with this budget?
We’re going to close this budget deficit — $3 million deficit — with the lowest tax increase in the year 2000. What was the inspiration for that? It required quite a few difficult choices. It would have been easy to go with a much higher tax increase. But the people I spoke with on the campaign trail, the hundreds and hundreds of people with whom I spoke with on their doorsteps, made it very, very clear to me that the tax burden on individual tax payers was driving them out of their homes — people who had lived in their homes, in their neighborhoods for years and in some cases generations. Making sure that that we held the line on taxes was inspired by nothing more than my conversations with folks on the campaign trail.
What can we see as direct changes, as citizens of Ithaca in the next year? Anything at all, or will these mergers go unnoticed on a person-to-person basis?
Particularly on the finance side, citizens won’t see a different at the moment. What you may see between the merger of the Planning Department and the Building Department is, particularly if you’re somebody who is building, in the next two years you’re going to have a similar experience. You could be building a 10-story hotel or you could just be trying to add a new porch onto your house. You’ll probably will have found that our building code is sometimes unclear and very often confusing, and getting straightforward answers about the building code, about what’s allowed, and the process you have to go through it, to get your hotel or your porch built is very confusing and very complex. So once this merger is successfully executed, I think anybody who wants to build in the City is going to notice a much different, a much more straightforward experience.