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Thursday, November 6, 2014

City officials, having recently announced that the tax hike in the 2015 budget had been cut to 6 percent, are now saying it's more like 10 percent.

The city's accounting firm, Lumsden & McCormick, told city leaders Wednesday that the cost of debt services in 2015 will increase by approximately $400,000, accounting for the 4 percent bump in the expected tax levy.

Officials were already displeased with the projected 6 percent hike, hoping to get it down to below the tax cap, projected to be 3.28 percent.

Common Council President Joe Kibler has an idea that could help — but would only reduce the levy by about 1.6 percent — and is far from a sure thing. It would require the city unions to give up their longevity payments, a bonus check they receive at the beginning of each year.

The odds of that actually happening, according to Kibler? "From zero to 10? Zero."

The real problem, he says, is that employees are most likely going to want to trade that longevity bonus for something else — and the city has nothing to offer.

The total savings, if all employee unions agreed, would be $162,766, Kibler said today.

A joint statement released Monday by Mayor Anne McCaffrey and Kibler said, "We will be working with city department heads this week to see if there are further reductions that can be made to reduce the proposed tax increase. The goal continues to be to present a budget at or below the tax cap."

The city would still have to cut approximately half a million dollars in spending, create an additional half million dollars in revenue, or a combination of the two, to get the tax levy increase down to the tax cap range.

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