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City wraps up budgetary issues

JOHNSTOWN — The city is wrapping up work on two budgetary issues, Mayor Vern Jackson said Friday.

City officials are working on two such issues simultaneously — a bond the city wants to issue for vehicles and equipment separate from the budget; and the 2020 budget process being worked on by Jackson and City Treasurer Michael Gifford.

Concerning bonding, or borrowing, the mayor said the city is getting closer to a final decision. He said it looks like city will end up bonding for about $2 million.

“I think that’s still in progress,” Jackson said. “We’re going to go ahead with that.”

Gifford first announced publicly in July that his office was working on securing financing for needed city projects and equipment. He said his office was developing a possible $1.6 million bond issue, which represents borrowing by city government. He said he put out requests to city departments The bond is now about $2 million.

Among the items being considered are: a salt storage building, new roof for the Johnstown Senior Citizens Center, garbage truck, plow with sander, excavator, skid steer loader, two pickup trucks with plows, police vehicles and related equipment, pumper truck, pickup truck with plow and cap, new ambulance, and a used garbage truck.

On the regular proposed 2020 city budget, Jackson said that is nearing completion. Eventually, he said the proposed spending plan will be presented to the Common Council for its review and adoption. No elements or figures related to the 2020 budget have been made public yet.

“We’re a little closer to getting together the budget.”

City officials haven’t indicated yet this fall whether the council plans to conduct a budget workshop with department heads, as has been done in previous years. In such workshops, the council over a two-hour public session usually meets for short periods with city department heads to go over line-by-line their proposed budgets for the following year.

The city will eventually conduct a public hearing on the tentative budget later this fall. Adoption of the budget for the following year is usually done by the council in either November or December.

Last Nov. 19, the council adopted the city’s current $12.9 million 2019 budget, which carried a 1.9 percent tax levy increase. The $12.9 million in appropriations ended up being lower than the $13.2 million city budget adopted for 2018. A total of $222,200 was applied in fund balance to balance the current budget. The tax levy hike was below the state tax cap of 2.5 percent. The levy for 2019 was $5,681,900. The property tax rate increase of .25 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation — from $12.63 for 2018 to $12.88 per $1,000 for 2019 — had to do mainly with support of unionized city government personnel.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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