City eyes funding, cuts in 2021 budget

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As the City of Rome moves through its budget process for 2021, officials are keeping an eye on sales tax revenues as well as county and state funding revenue streams typically available to them but now seriously impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re reviewing the 2021 budget. There’s still a lot of uncertainties,” said Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo. While the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic remain ongoing, the city still must work to put together a spending plan for next year on a traditional budget time frame. That process produces a preliminary spending plan by Izzo and her budget team the end of September which is then presented to the Common Council for their review —as well as public hearings — with passage required, with or without changes, by early November.

She projects a 20% reduction in state aid to school districts, hospitals and municipal project money.

For the city that translates to about $2 million less in 2021, the Rome mayor
said. According to state budget documents, Rome received about $9 million in Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM funding), for the current fiscal year. Recent state announcements have shown cuts implemented in the Capitol to these funding streams.

Additionally, sales tax revenue year-to-date (which factors in business shutdowns and recovery after reopening) has averaged out to an 8% percent drop from the same period last year.

The city has compensated, there have been reductions to department budgets and about 80 city employees are on a shared work program, which is a state program that allows the city to pay a reduced hour work force while allowing them to keep benefits intact.

“A lot of the moves we took early in the year … that’s going to help some this year,” she said, but added that everything is getting a hard look.

Izzo said that while she and her staff are working to maintain as many city services as possible, future cuts in programs or services are possible. With a decrease in projected revenue, “now we have to figure out where we are going,” she said.

Izzo said that while water, sewer and road projects already in process will continue, funding for public projects will most likely decrease.

To keep the city on a forward trajectory, Izzo said support can be made for private projects — like a housing project in the works at the Fort Stanwix school site — which still enhance the city, she said.

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