News from Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster on the passage of the 2013 budget:
At a Special Meeting held Thursday, Peekskill’s Common Council unanimously passed the city’s 2013 Budget by a vote of 7-0. The $51.3 million budget cuts spending by 2% and protects Peekskill’s high municipal credit rating. In addition, the budget reduces an earlier proposed tax levy increase from 6% to 3.8%, keeping Peekskill’s plan within the State of New York’s Tax Cap. City leaders worked diligently this year to cover a whopping 21.5% increase in its employee pension bill, as mandated by New York State, and an additional 12% increase in health insurance premiums.
“We’ve approved a responsible budget that streamlines city services and saves public safety positions,” said Mary Foster, mayor, the City of Peekskill. She also notes that Council members responded to the concerns of the public and were able to retain staff at the Kiley Youth Center and spare city pre-school and recreation programs from elimination.
The city was able to significantly minimize layoffs overall by offering early retirement packages to some employees, Mayor Foster said. The 18 city positions that were eliminated were primarily white collar and managerial staff within City Hall. “The Council will work diligently to restore those positions in 2014 and in the future,” Mayor Foster added.
The city’s future lies in further economic development, Mayor Foster noted. “Our goal is to facilitate the creation of several thriving sectors throughout the city.” The Council intends to invest in public safety and economic development in 2013, which will ultimately generate new business revenues to the city. “Additionally, the city has issued an RFP for the lease and operation of the Paramount Theater, the crown jewel of Downtown Peekskill,” Foster noted.
Highlights of the 2013 City of Peekskill Budget include:
• The tax levy increase was reduced to 3.82% from 6% and remained within the State of New York’s Tax Cap. This will amount to a tax increase of $73 per year for the average homeowner, or approximately $6 per month;
• Spending has been cut by 2% and the budget has been balanced without dipping into the city’s fund balance;
• Police and fire positions have been saved;
• Total number of layoffs were reduced from 24 to 18 and are primarily managerial and white collar positions at City Hall;
• Full-time staff at the Kiley Youth Center have been retained, and the city’s pre-school and recreation programs have been restored.
The Council worked hard this year to cover a sharp 21.5% increase in the retirement bill, as mandated by New York State, and an additional 12% increase in health insurance premiums.
Mayor Foster also pointed out that to achieve savings, the city merged payroll, personnel, finance and cash collection functions. “This budget is based on the efforts of everyone in this city, from the input we received from the public on priorities, to the generosity of the employees who opted for early retirement. I am confident that we can continue to work together to create a vital, thriving Peekskill.”