Tax increase update

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[This is a break in the series on Warren demographics. That series will resume with the next post.]

The Citizen’s Committee met with the City Council Finance Committee and the Mayor yesterday for an update on the use of the income tax increase funds and other items previously agreed to. Dick Thomas gave the Citizens Committee report. Highlights were:

  • Revenue from the tax increase are slightly below expectations, but it’s only been a couple months and no one is worried at this time.
  • Police hiring has been a little slow due to a limited pool of qualified applicants. Two have been hired and another 8 are in the pipeline.
  • Fire department hiring has been better with 12 hires. They have 6 more open spots, but will have to have another civil service exam to make the pool large enough.
  • All $500,000 slotted for road repairs will be spent this year. It will require $1.5 million just to redo the “Priority 1” streets, those in the worst condition, so this will be at least a three year project.
  • The auditor has put the city’s finances on Open Checkbook for the public to examine.
  • The escrow fund is being funded to enable the city to retain the new firemen once the SAFER grant expires.
  • There is still no labor contract between the city and the WFD; the situation is headed for arbitration.
  • There has been no progress on reinvigorating the Housing Court as yet.
  • The city has put most of its unused real estate on the market but have been unable to sell any of it other than one vacant lot on Summit Street.
  • City Council has not yet implemented the use of “Financial Impact Statements” for each piece of legislation, but the issue is being addressed for future action.
  • There was a lengthy discussion on the idea of selling Avalon Golf Course. Mr. Thomas made the argument that it is an asset that provides no return and the city should sell it and use the money for one of the many unfunded capital improvement projects required. It seems likely that this will get a debate in the entire City Council in the near future.
  • There was also a lengthy discussion of economic development, but it was too unstructured to have yielded anything concrete. Councilman John Brown (D-3) urged his colleagues to consider rethinking the current $67,000 per year subsidy for the downtown parking deck as a way to free up funds for economic development.
Posted Thursday, March 30th, 2017 under Budget.

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