The Rye Perspective with Mayor Douglas French: Frequently Asked Questions on the 2011 City Budget.
At the budget public hearing last week, residents came out to ask questions and listen to Council deliberate across a range of budget topics. Based on the year-over-year changes, the most frequently asked questions are summarized below. In short, the revised general fund budget is now at $29.9M or an increase of 1% in the property tax levy. A spending level that is only $300k more or one-half percent per year than was actually spent two years ago in 2009 — despite projected increases of over $1M in healthcare and pension increases alone. Final adoption is scheduled for December 15th.
The City seeks to increase its cost-recovery of recreation expenses in the amount of $230,000 with a combination of cost reductions or increases in revenues. Rye Recreation traditionally recovers approximately 40% of its costs annually ($900,000 in revenue on $2.4M of costs, excluding an additional $500,000 in park maintenance as part of the cost-recovery calculation). The summer camps for example return $525,000 of the total revenue and recover 100% of its cost.
Why are athletic user groups being asked to pay an additional $10 per application?
The cost of maintaining fields in materials and maintenance has risen significantly. While user groups set their own pricing and cover program costs, what is proposed is an increase in the amount the City receives per application. 10 years ago the City established a field surcharge of $5/per application that was designed to go directly into field maintenance material costs. That will now increase $10 per application.
Will this additional revenue be applied to other City services?
No, the additional revenue will go toward increasing the cost-recovery of recreation services to include materials and employee costs designated for fields and field maintenance.
RYE FREE READING ROOM
The City seeks to reduce its contribution to the Rye Free Reading room by $100,000 or 8% from a $1,155M annual contribution to $1,055M.
How will the $100k reduction in the City’s contribution impact library operations?
The library will need to close operations for additional hours. Although the library is not a City department, the rising cost of employees and unionized labor is something all municipalities are grappling with. The City’s contribution goes directly to pay library employee costs, but does not manage the operating decisions and labor agreements established with the library union.
The City seeks to re-organize uniform services to save $150,000 within the $8M police department budget.
What is the status of the youth officer Position?
The Youth Officer position will remain in the detective unit of the police department and continue to be the lead resource on youth-related matters as they occur. One vacancy in the detective unit will not be filled due to retirement, but two vacancies in the patrol unit are in the process of being filled.
What about DARE?
Based on conversations with School officials, in order to balance their demand for more classroom teaching time and balance the deployment of police officers on the street, the DARE program will be significantly modified from its current 10-week program in the 5th grade. The City will continue to work with the schools on the best ways to have drug education and other like programs – most likely in the middle school years.
Is the Marine Patrol going away?
No, the Marine unit will remain active but the assigned time for Police personnel to the water will be targeted during to the peak season of May through September rather than April through November. Part-time personnel will continue to be utilized during the extended timeframe.
RYE GOLF CLUB
The City will not seek to add additional cost to the Rye Golf Club (RGC) in order to increase its annual contribution to the City. The Golf Club budget for 2011 is $7.8M (not included in City’s general fund) and is self-sustaining without taxpayer subsidies.
Why doesn’t the Golf Club contribute more to the City operations?
RGC already contributes over $900k to the City operations in both revenue contributions and bond payments to pay down the Whitby Castle debt. In this economy and the competitive nature of country clubs, RGC is actually losing members and potential members to other clubs. The club will pay the additional increases in its employee healthcare and pension costs as well as allocated City expenses, but any significant increases in membership fees will impact the Club’s overall revenue.
For more information on these matters, visit the City of Rye Website at www.ryeny.gov or, please contact me, your City Council members or the City Manager. Mayor’s office hours will be at 7 pm on December 15th in the Mayor’s Conference room.
Mayor Doug French, firstname.lastname@example.org