ST. ALBANS — With the loss of a $1 million police contract for coverage of St. Albans Town this year, the city’s overall proposed budget is slated to increase the tax rate by 2.5%, according to city officials.
“For the average tax payer, that’s $50 more annually,” said City Manager Dominic Cloud on Tuesday. “That 2.5 level of increase is right on with the consumer price increase of the northeast. We usually try to stay within 2-3%.”
Officials said the proposed budget was “not a long-term solution,” and was made more “challenging” because of no increase in last year’s budget.
“In short, this is a bare bones budget that responds to the unexpected loss of police department revenues,” the said Cloud and Finance Director Tom Leitz in a memo to city councilors.
According to the proposed budget, seven positions in the St. Albans City Police Department would be eliminated, amounting to a total savings of $600,000, though the memo said no current staff members will lose their jobs, and the police department operations will remain unaffected.
“Given that we’re just covering the city (now), those are appropriate staffing levels based on crime statistics,” Cloud said. “We’re just going back to where we were before we had the town (coverage).
“Over the last 10 years, the city has been providing services to the town,” Cloud said. “This time, the town put it out to bid and the Franklin County sheriff got the contract this year.”
A total of four police patrol positions, two street crimes positions, the Parks Patrol and Dispatch Director position could be eliminated if voters approve the budget, which would leave the city with 12 officers and one detective, according to the memo.
The memo also recommended that overtime and other personnel-driven line items be eliminated from the budget, but plans to establish a Highgate police contract are still in the works.
The additional $400,000 in savings was generated by paying off loans in the previous year’s budget and by freezing the Capital Improvement Program.
St. Albans General Fund revenues are down 16%, a total of $1.7 million, according to the budget proposal. General expenditures would also see a projected drop of 17%, including an 82% decrease in funds toward the Police Department Capital line amounting to $835,000, documents showed.
The Fire Department Capital line would also decrease by 68%, or $8,500, according to the proposed budget.
Proposed expenditures for finance and administration showed that 100% of travel stipends would be transitioned into salary pay and 100% of trash removal monies would be moved to Public Works Administration. Both the Budget Stabilization Fund and Redevelopment Fund Repayment are slated to double, bringing each of their respective totals to $40,000.
Five percent of each of those funds will go to local option, Cloud said.
Debts from the FY21 funds for the “Courthouse Parking Lot,” “Blouin Parking Lot,” “Utility Vehicle” monies, “Barlow Street Courts,” “City Pickup Truck,” “Barlow Street Elevator and Stairs,” “Payloader,” “Utility Truck,” “Backhoe,” “Mini-excavator,” “Sidewalk Plow III,” “Mini Excavator II,” “Sidewalk Plow IV,” and town “Utility Truck” were each reportedly paid off and removed from the proposed budget.