With Tuesday's meeting drawing closer, City Council members are looking for ways to help close the budget gap.
Recently, Mayor Sam Teresi suggested that he would support a small increase in the projected sales tax revenues for 2013, increasing it by $100,000. During a meeting with the City Council on Nov. 19, however, council members Vince DeJoy, D-Ward 4, and Tony Dolce, R-Ward 2, both stated that they felt that the $100,000 increase to the estimated $5.6 million budget line was actually lower than what they felt would be safe.
"We received our sales tax numbers and it's definitely favorable," said DeJoy. "Reading the headline in the newspaper, I saw the mayor's increase as a conservative number. I don't think that we need to do what other municipalities are doing and what the county government is doing, but I'm thinking that we could probably be a little bit more aggressive, somewhere in the $125,000 to $140,000 range. Maybe I'm really hopeful, but I just get this feeling that 2013 could be a better year for the national economy. I hope it's not driven by gasoline prices, I just hope it's more economic activity."
As Teresi had pointed out previously, a portion of the higher than expected sales tax revenues from the third quarter came from an increase in gasoline and diesel prices, which include sales tax. He also noted that steady improvement in overall economic activity was a factor in the sales tax numbers for the third quarter.
"My only concern would be that if they don't solve the tax situation, it could have a huge effect on people's spending and employment, among other things," said Dolce.
During that meeting, council members discussed other possible options to help close the budget gap, which they plan to further discuss during a work session on Tuesday before approving the 2013 executive budget. Some of these efforts that were mentioned included holding an amnesty day for parking tickets, looking for a more focused effort to negotiate payments in lieu of taxes from area non-profit organizations and reducing some lines of the budget such as demolitions and the contingency fund.
"I'm looking for any lines that we can possibly adjust and take a more aggressive approach to raise more revenue," said DeJoy.
The City Council will hold a budget meeting to address possible amendments to the 2013 budget prior to the meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the 2nd floor council chambers.