Watertown lawmakers dip into city savings to help balance budget

Watertown city budget

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Watertown’s city council agreed Monday night to use about $475,000 from the city's fund balance – essentially, the city’s savings -- to help balance the 2020-2021 budget.

The city is facing an expected revenue shortfall of $3.7 million.

Thompson Park zoo, which has been struggling financially, is now set to receive $50,000 from the city.

“The zoo is greater than any one budget year,” Mayor Jeff Smith said. “It's really a gem for our community, our Thompson Park, and if the zoo were to close, unlike a rec program for one year or unfortunately a person getting laid off, that will be forever.”

The Community Action Planning Council (CAPC) will receive $10,000. Each council member is taking a pay cut to help with that cost.

Flower Memorial Library will also be getting $10,000 for books.

Meanwhile, two employees in the city's IT department will be getting their jobs back.

The city is laying off 10 other workers and eliminating 11 positions.

“None of these decisions are taken lightly,” Smith said. “None of them are easy and it's hard, but I think staff is showing great leadership.”

Officials say the tax rate will increase by about 1.9 percent. That's down from a projected hike of 6.65 percent.

The city is still waiting to hear about how much money they will get from state aid.

A public comment session will be held next Tuesday and council members are expected to vote on the proposed budget on June 1.

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