JOHNSTOWN - Officials don't have a sense yet whether the city budget next year will be better than the last one, but are hopeful the city with again stay within the state tax cap for 2013.
One city official, however, doesn't foresee handing out raises for city employees next year.
The city has begun its proposed budget process for 2013, which involves department heads, Mayor Sarah Slingerland, City Treasurer Michael Gifford and finally the Common Council, which eventually reviews and adopts the final spending plan by the end of the year.
"So far what we've done is Mr. Gifford has met with each of the department heads," Slingerland said today. "They have gone over their tentative budgets."
Gifford couldn't be reached this morning for comment, although the 2013 budget process is slated to be discussed at the council's committee meeting at 7 p.m. today at City Hall.
The council also will formally conduct the city's annual 2013 budget workshop starting at 5:15 p.m. Oct. 15 at City Hall. Individual department heads will be given time to present their tentative budgets to the council for its review.
Slingerland said after that session, Gifford will be assembling work sheets and work with her prior to the mayor releasing her tentative budget. The tentative mayor's budget is usually released in October or November.
The mayor said the city doesn't quite have figures together yet to comment about next year's budget.
"We really don't have an early read on it," Slingerland stated.
But she noted the council didn't override the first-ever state-imposed tax-levy cap for the 2012 budget and the city was able to stay within the cap. Municipalities are allowed to pass special legislation override the cap. Even though the council raised the city's tax rate by 2 percent for the current budget year, the city stayed within $56,000 of the state-imposed tax-levy cap of 7.7 percent.
The 2012 budget ended up having a tax-levy cap increase for 2012 of about 6 percent, with the budget carrying a roughly $4.5 million levy.
Slingerland said the council may not have to override the state tax cap again.
"I am hopeful, we won't have to do it this year," the mayor said.
Councilman-at-Large Bryan Marcucci said today he hasn't discussed any 2013 budget figures yet with Gifford. He said more will be known at the Oct. 15 budget workshop.
However, Marcucci said he doesn't think any city employees should get their hopes up about pay raises for 2013.
"I don't see any raises coming," Marcucci said.
The Common Council adopted the city's current $10.5 million 2012 city budget Dec. 5. That spending plan kept city services intact and didn't include layoffs or staffing changes, although the mayor and council members weren't given raises. The 2012 budget had a property tax rate of $17.23 per $1,000 of assessed valuation - 38 cents more than the $16.85 per $1,000 rate for 2011.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.