PORT JERVIS – A budget
that would have increased the city tax rate 8.1 percent failed to pass
during the final scheduled Port Jervis Common Council meeting of 2017.
The painful irony is that if the council can’t come to an agreement
by December 31, a contingency budget would kick in that will increase
taxes 11 percent.
By statute, a contingency budget consists of the 2017 spending plan, to
which would be added contractually obligated salary increases.
Among the ‘no’ votes was Stan Siegel, who objected to any
increase for a sitting mayor or council. He said he would be willing to
look at the salary issue in 2018.
Mayor Kelly Decker raised some eyebrows when he initially proposed increasing
his own salary from $20,000 to $40,000, contending the part-time position
requires full-time attention.
Councilwoman Sarah Hendry also opposed the budget, recalling some recent
“Progress and growth is the goal but not at the expense of the people
and it is the job of this council to represent the people that are here
now, not those that we may hope will move in,” Hendry said. “There
are good neighbors and bad neighbors, neither of which can be determined
by one’s finances. If this budget passes, your taxes will have increased
nearly 27 percent in three years.”
“Failure to focus” is what Mayor Kelly Decker, who appealed
for budget approval, blamed the tax hikes on.
“When you take eight years of zero percent tax increases and you
don’t do things in a steady way, and work on steady growth and you
cut your police department and you cut your DPW and you steal from your
fund balance to make your budget work, you’re not going to survive,”
the mayor said.
Decker said he will call as many special meetings as are needed between
now and December 31, to reach a workable agreement.
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