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Elmira Budget Vote Almost Postponed

Written By: Tanja Rekhi
Elmira Budget Vote Almost Postponed

ELMIRA (WENY) -- Back in November, Elmira's Interim City Manager unveiled her proposed budget with a 3.97% tax rate increase. Then after public hearings and some changes by Council, she released a revised budget in December. This time it contained a 5.97% increase.
     Now, some council members aren't comfortable moving forward with a vote to adopt the spending plan.   
     "This is not something you decide at the last minute, you do your homework, you move forward," said Councilman Brent Stermer. "It is an increase. If you want changes, we've cut, we've slashed we've pulled it all apart. There's not much more that can be done."
     What's ruffling some feathers is that the preliminary budget was published on the city's website, followed by the updated version.
     "I'm not sure what I'm going to do for the whole budget, whether I'm going to vote for the budget or not based on that, but I just think the right numbers have to be out there for the public to see," said Councilman Joe Duffy.
     The document has since been taken down. City leaders decided not to push back Monday's scheduled vote because it would spell bad news for the city.
     "The city has borrowed money expecting to pass a budget on Monday. Although it's a minimal amount, we would lose through interest charges it would effect our bond rating if we don't pass that budget on Monday," said Councilman Stermer.
     The budget only needs a popular majority vote to pass. If it doesn't pass, it's back to the drawing board until an agreement is reached.
     "It just slows the process down. So should we do that? I'm not so sure," said Elmira Mayor Sue Skidmore. "I mean I understand this is the most emotional part this is where it really effects everybody's pockets."
      As it stands the hike breaks down to $60 a year on a house valued at $50,000 or $5 a month. We'll have more on the vote Monday night.