No tax hike as Watertown wraps up city budget talks

Published: May. 11, 2021 at 8:32 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Monday marked day three of the city of Watertown’s budget work session marathon.

When talks wrapped up, Mayor Jeff Smith had one major takeaway: people won’t be paying more in taxes or for water and sewer.

“Tax rate is zero, water and sewer rates are zero,” he said.

Smith says it’s partly because of cuts and changes made in the budget.

The most recent federal COVID relief bill plays a role, too.

Guidance for American Rescue Plan funds came out Monday and Smith says the city is looking to put some of that money towards six positions lost to the pandemic, including cuts to the police force.

“Positions that were cut because of COVID and the loss, we can now fund those with ARP funding,” Smith said, “so that helped us save a little bit in the budget.

The city council also heard from other department about the need for more staffing in the budget, such as a safety officer for Human Resources to take control of their safety program.

“We’re a business with 350-plus employees with multitude of departments,” Smith said. “Safety is a very important factor.”

Smith also says the city plans to use cash for some upcoming projects to reduce debt it will have to pay off down the road.

With budget talks in the rearview mirror, Smith says the goal is to adopt it on May 24.

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