Watertown’s proposed budget hikes taxes, slashes staff and salaries

Watertown’s proposed budget hikes taxes, slashes staff and salaries
Watertown City Hall

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Watertown's proposed city budget calls for a tax hike, layoffs and salary cuts.

Mayor Jeff Smith tells 7 News he received the spending plan Wednesday.

He said there's a proposal to slash the following positions:

- 4 police officers

- 6 workers with the Civil Service Employees Association, or CSEA

- 1 firefighter

The budget also includes a 5 percent salary cut to management and non-union employees. Vacant positions would remain unfilled.

There's no money for the Zoo at Thompson Park or for recreation programs in the spending plan.

Despite the cuts, city residents are looking at an 8 percent jump in their property taxes.

Smith said the proposal is based on no union concessions, which could change the numbers in the proposed budget.

Last week, City Manager Ken Mix began notifying employees who would be laid off under the spending plan.

The mayor said roughly 45 percent of the city's budget comes from sales tax, which has dropped dramatically during the shutdown of most businesses.

He also said the state will withhold additional sales tax revenue it usually gives to the city. There's also going to be an increase in retirement contributions, Smith said.

Smith said he expects the pandemic will cause the city to lose several million dollars in revenue.

A public hearing for the proposed budget is scheduled for May 4 at 7:30 p.m. The hearing will be held virtually and people will be able to call in to make their voices heard.

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