WENY News - Committee urges City of Elmira to work with county to avoid prop

Committee urges City of Elmira to work with county to avoid property tax hike

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- Elmira city councilman James Waters formed the Committee for Elmira, along with several current and former city and county officials.

The committee's goal is to advocates for taxpayers and provide support for the city management.

Recently, the committee sent out a letter discussing their desire for city leaders to work closely with Chemung county.

"During the conversations we've been having over the past year, some of those conversations came down to talking about shared services between the county and the city and the difficulties both entities seem to be having getting together and continuing those conversations," said City of Elmira Councilman, James Waters.

By sharing services, the committee wants the city to work towards cut down its deficit and avoid raising property taxes seventeen percent. 

"We need to consider every revenue source out there and develop plans and strategies," said Waters. "If those plans and strategies don't look like they would work, then fine. I guess we would have to do a tax increase. But I believe it's very important to, at least, look at those plans and strategies first."

But County officials say it's the city that's dropped the ball from the beginning. 

"You needed to make a lot of changes," said Chemung County Executive, Tom Santulli. "We've been asking them to make those changes for a decade and we have met a lot of resistance. We've done a lot, but there's a lot of things we haven't done."

Santulli believes shared services isn't a fix-all to the city's financial problems.

"But the city has waited and has been in denial so long, now their problem is massive," said Santulli. "To the tune of a seventeen percent property tax increase and a three million dollar negative fund balance. No reserve. It's a huge problem and I'm not sure how fixable it is by anything we can do right now with shared services."

City council will begin holding workshops to address the proposed budget after the first of the year.

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