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Elmira/Corning

City lawmakers look at 2013 budget and beyond

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: City lawmakers look at 2013 budget and beyond
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It's that time of year where lawmakers look at spending plans for the next year. Two weeks after the City of Elmira's manager released the proposed 2013 plan, the mayor and council members met for their first workshop. Our Katie Husband explains what lawmakers are doing try and resolve long-term financial burdens.

ELMIRA, N.Y. -- A task that takes up an entire morning, but it has to be done.

"This is the opportunity for us to present the budget to the council in a more detailed form, answer any questions they might have and also to explain some of the information that's in the budget," said John Burin, Elmira City Manager.

Elmira lawmakers gathered to go over the proposed $31 million 2013 spending plan. It calls for a 2.9 percent property tax hike that amounts to an extra $27 for a house assessed at $50,000.

"You're very limited in ways on how you can generate revenue. Our major source of revenue is through the real property tax and you can only use that so much, you can only tax people so much," said Burin.

And local governments have to deal with a state-mandated two percent tax cap.

"Clearly what the tax cap is doing is telling us is that we need to shrink government and not necessarily for the City of Elmira but there's a lot of small municipalities out there that don't have services like police and fire," said Sue Skidmore, Elmira Mayor.

After the first budget workshop city lawmakers have agreed they need to start looking into years ahead to save the government money and to lower the debt and they already have ideas on how to do that.

"We're continuing our talks with more things out there. We know there are more things out there we can talk about as far as shared services with our neighboring communities, municipalities and with the county as well," said Skidmore.

"We need to make those decisions, look at contracts and get them lined up now for the future because that's the way it has to be," said Skidmore.

The council is expecting to vote on the proposed budget in January.

Lawmakers are also considering putting a local tax cap law on the City Council's agenda. It would give them the authority to exceed the state's two percent cap to keep public services intact. It must be voted on before the end of the year.

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