Warren releases $552 million city budget proposal

May 17, 2019

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren.
Credit James Brown WXXI

Mayor Lovely Warren’s proposed $552 million city budget includes $700,000 for a controversial board that would review police misconduct claims.

Warren announced the budget proposal Friday at City Hall. She said the spending plan closes a roughly $38 million gap by trimming expenses and finding new sources of revenue. She said an increase in city sales tax receipts and parking fees are a few of the things that will fill the gap. Warren also anticipates having to spend less on pensions and planned investments.

Those adjustments allow the city to increase its proposed budget by about $10 million. Warren said she plans to do this without raising the property tax levy, which is the total amount of taxes the city takes in. Homeowners will still pay more, though.

“While we have managed our finances, controlled our spending, and kept our levy flat, the state-mandated shift has increased property rates for our homeowners,” said Warren.

City Budget Director Chris Wagner said the state issues a formula that determines which portion of the property tax levy is paid by homeowners and which portion is paid by businesses.

A typical city homeowner with a house assessed at $72,600 would see an increase of about $50. A typical business property assessed at $285,200 would see a decrease of about $450.

The budget includes roughly $700,000 per year earmarked for City Council’s proposed police accountability board. The controversial board would oversee police misconduct claims against police officers. Warren said she expects it to pass at Tuesday night’s Council meeting.

“We did not want to not budget for the plan that they were most likely going to approve this month because we want the budget to accurately reflect what we plan on doing,” said Warren.

The money would allow the board to hire four full-time employees including an executive director, two accountability examiners, and an assistant.

Since the proposed board would have the power to punish police officers, which would narrow the mayor’s power, voters would have to approve it in a referendum in November. If it passes, the board likely would not be active until January.

Other notable parts of the budget include:

  • Turning the former soccer stadium into a youth sports complex.
  • Increasing funding for library programs that focus on helping immigrants adjust to the country.
  • Fifty new body-worn cameras for police officers.
  • Funding for long-gestating projects like La Marketa and ROC the Riverway.

The city’s fiscal year begins July 1 and runs through the end of next June.

City Council will hold several hearings and vote on the budget next month. You can see the budget proposal for yourself below:

City of Rochester FY20 Prop... by on Scribd