By Anjali Patel
On Tuesday, Mayor Svante Myrick released the 2014 Ithaca City Budget during a media conference. Later that night, the budget was presented to the City Council, who will have 6 weeks to approve the budget. Mayor Myrick assured guests if the budget is not approved, there will not be a government shutdown.
“They actually have to approve the budget, so they can’t pull a Congress,” he said. “If they don’t approve the budget, then my budget proposal stands. So we won’t have a government shutdown.”
The mayor announced that the City of Ithaca is running a $1.9 million dollar deficit. A 2.08 percent tax levy increase, the lowest tax levy increase since 2000, will contribute to closing this gap. Mayor Myrick also has other plans.
“We’re anticipating more sales tax revenue because the economy is continuing to rebound,” he said. “We also anticipate increased parking revenues and we expect more money in parking garages and more money in parking meters.”
The City is taking other measures to close the deficit, including merging its IT department and its City clerks department into one to form the new Department of Public Information and Technology.
“This new Department of Public Information and Technology will go from two separate departments having 8 staff total, into one department with one person managing 6 people,” Myrick said. “By doing this you can eliminate one position, which is $100,000 in savings.”
In addition to the deficit, the budget has other debt issues to address. With the 2014 budget, the city will be paying off $4.8 million while issuing $3.9 million more in new debts.
“So we’re going to be paying off our debt a little faster than we’re accumulating new debt next year,” Myrick said. “We’re very happy about that, but we have to continue on that track.”
Myrick said that he considers how little Cornell University donates to the City of Ithaca to be shameful. At the meeting, he presented a chart comparing the amount of money other Ivy League institutions contribute to the cities where they are located.
“Cornell gives about $1.2 million each year, and expected about that much this year,” he said. “Now if they paid property tax, they would pay $30 million.”
Mayor Myrick is confident in the 2014 budget and the City of Ithaca’s current financial state.
“We’re in a relatively strong financial situation compared to other cities at this time,” he said.