October 20, 2021

Cortland council adopts budget for 2021

The Cortland Common Council adopted on Tuesday a $21.2 million general fund budget for 2021, an almost 1% reduction from the 2020 adopted budget, but still a 5.2% increase in the property tax rate, an increase in part because of declining property values in the city.

“Well, it’s not the budget we would have expected to pass at the beginning of this year,” Mayor Brian Tobin said before the meeting. The budget increases the property tax levy 1%. “With all of the challenges, we should be proud of the budget we’re putting forward. It’s responsible and maintains services to the people.”

The city budgeted for $4.7 million in sales tax revenue for 2021, a nearly 10% decrease from the $5.2 million it expected to receive in 2020, although that projection didn’t account for a pandemic and recession, said Mack Cook, the city’s director of administration and finance.

Alderman Bruce Tytler (D-3rd Ward) questioned about funding for street paving and whether streets listed to be paved in 2021 were the same as those in 2020.

The city curtailed a good deal of spending this year, delaying a number of projects.

Tobin said any street listed to be paved for 2021 was tentative. Details on specific streets to be paved were not available.

Plans for street paving are developed in spring with specific streets targeted that need resurfacing along with roads that need further work done on pipes underneath, said Nic Dovi, the city’s deputy superintendent of public works.

Dovi said he’d be happy to provide Tytler with a plan early next year.

“We have to pave streets, folks,” Tytler said. “They’re not in great shape and we can’t let them slide.”

The wastewater and water fund budgets were adopted Dec. 1, and are funded with user fees, Tobin said.

With the general fund budget down from 2020, Tobin said the 5.2% increase in the tax rate was one way to make up for lost sales tax revenue and state aid.