Council eyes public safety spending

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As work continues in processing Rome’s 2021 proposed budget, the city’s police and fire departments had their budget reviews Wednesday night.

Last week, Rome Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo handed over a $44.9 million proposed budget plan that touted no property tax increase for what would be the fourth year in a row if accepted.

Speaking to public safety,” Izzo said in her budget address that for the 2021 budget, “We will not compromise in the area of public safety. We currently have eight recruits in the police academy and will be hiring more officers next year to fill authorized positions. The fire Department added seven firefighters to its ranks this year and remains extremely busy with not only fire response but (emergency medical services) as well.”

The spending proposal sets police expenditures at 16.76% and the fire department expenditures at 14.22% of the total budget, according to documents. 

“The largest increase is for the leasing of 10 police vehicles acquired in 2020 for a full 12 months as well as the acquisition of two new vehicles in 2021 for a total increase of $44,801. Telephone charges of $38,000 is the next largest increase. … Finally, a $10,491 increase in the allocation of Central Maintenance charges reflects prior years’ utilization,” reads a budget statement.

Impacting factors were noted as, ”revenues other than property taxes are forecasted to decrease $5,885 in 2021. The budget anticipates a decline of $77,000 in court fees as the system has been slowed by the Covid virus as well as $48,000 in utility fees reflecting a long term decline in Spectrum ... Interest earnings are anticipated to decline $12,772 reflecting the precipitous decline in market interest rates in 2020 and minor sales $18,000 reflecting the replacement of previously owned city vehicles with new leased cars and trucks. Finally, the city is anticipating refunds of real estate taxes from certiorari proceedings on commercial properties of almost $42,000 in 2021.”

Police Chief Kevin Beach said the department’s vehicle leasing program will continue.

At Wednesday night’s budget hearing, the fire department’s proposed $6,800,651 budget was also examined. 

As of September 30 this year, the department has expensed approximately $4,755,368 of its 2020 enacted budget of $6,928,841, according to budget
documents.

In the 2021 proposal, there is a request for a water rescue raft with an estimated expense of $8,500. The expense was included in the previous budget, but was not purchased, said Chief Thomas Iacovissi. 

The rescue boat would allow the fire department to not wait on a borrowed craft in the event of an emergency on the barge canal or Lake Delta.

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A public hearing on the complete proposed budget will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 11.

The copy of Rome’s proposed budget can be viewed online at: https://romenewyork.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/2021-BUDGET-FINAL-BEFORE-COUNCIL.pdf

Additional information on the budget season (including how to listen to meetings) and information on regular common council meetings can be found online at: https://romenewyork.com/common-council/

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