JOHNSTOWN - The Common Council on Monday adopted an $11 million city budget for 2013 with a tax-rate increase of 1.5 percent and a $5,000 raise for Mayor Sarah Slingerland.
The mayor's 38 percent raise will increase her part-time salary from $13,300 for 2012 to $18,300 for 2013.
The mayor didn't seek the raise in her tentative budget, but council members Monday said the salary hasn't been raised in many years and the mayor deserves more pay.
The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich
Johnstown 3rd Ward Councilwoman Helen Martin, standing, reads a resolution adopting the city’s 2013 budget Monday night at City Hall. Seated are Johnstown 1st Ward Councilwoman Cindy Lakata and Johnstown 2nd Ward Councilman Chris Foss.
"It's still too low," said 2nd Ward Councilman Chris Foss. "The [mayor's] salary should be up even higher than it is."
City Treasurer Michael Gifford said after Monday's meeting the raise will come out of money previously intended for the Department of Public Works. Gifford provided a document showing the money coming from DPW construction materials for storm sewers.
"The salary for the position of mayor is not adequate given the level of responsibility," the document stated.
Here are a few highlights of Johnstown's 2013 budget:
Total: $11 million.
Increase over 2012 budget: $503,200.
Tax-rate increase: 1.5
Tax-levy increase: 4.6
Mayoral raise - $5,000.
The document added that "actual expenditures" for storm sewers are "historically less" than budgeted amounts, and the city has an adequate contingency account for 2013 if needed.
The 2013 budget carries a tax-levy increase of 4.6 percent, slightly below the state's tax-levy cap. The tax-rate increase brings property owners' tax rate to $17.49 per $1,000 of assessed value. Total appropriations in the city's tentative budget are just over $11 million - a $503,200 increase over the city's current $10.5 million 2012 budget.
The budget increase in appropriations totals 4.8 percent for next year. Items reflecting some of the increases in the budget include $245,000 for proposed Rail Trail improvements, which are funded 80 percent by the federal government.
"I think this is a pretty good budget," Foss said.
Johnstown 1st Ward Councilwoman Cindy Lakata thanked the mayor, Gifford and all city departments for crafting the 2013 budget.
"It's just so much work to pull this together and keep it at a reasonable level," she said.
Slingerland told the council she could overrule her raise, but won't because "it is for the position," which entails many hours of work.
"It is a lot of time," she said. "It is long overdue, I suppose."
Slingerland said she also saw the final 2013 city budget in "very favorable terms."
She described the plan as a "good, solid budget" that doesn't reduce city services. She said property owners with a home assessed at about $50,000 will pay about $13 more in property taxes next year.
"Given the economic times and the increases in cost, I think it is very fair," the mayor said.
Slingerland said the city still has a fund balance that represents about 10 percent of the budget, which she said is a good amount.
Gifford said the city is at about 60 percent of its state-allowed taxing level, well below an 80 percent "caution" level and 90 percent "dangerous" level.
"I think we accomplished all our goals," Slingerland said.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.