Mayor Ray O’Connell delivered his proposed 2020 city budget to City Council this afternoon. The approximately $119 million spending plan holds the property tax rate stable at 7.31 mills.
In his message to City Council, O’Connell said, “We have righted the ship. The unrestricted cash reserve for General Fund operations at the beginning of 2020 is projected to exceed $12 million, a significant improvement from a year ago considering that more than $1 million in capital expenses were paid from operational funds for the first time in several years. A vibrant economy has resulted in strong growth rates for City tax collection, with business privilege tax receipts at record levels and with annual increases likely exceeding 5% in 2019 for earned income tax and deed transfer tax. These increases have proven timely, as wage and benefit costs continue to grow as well. Any slowing of economic growth will likely slow increases in tax collection, and we must plan for general City operations with a reasonable expectation of such an occurrence.”
The Business Privilege Tax remains stable, as does the $52 Local Services Tax. The Refuse Collection and Stormwater Management fees remain flat.
The budget continues O’Connell’s commitment to investments in public safety. Four new firefighters will enable to return to full service the City’s second aerial truck. Four new paramedics will enable a fully functioning third ambulance during overnight hours, ensuring residents of available rapid-response emergency medical services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Police will continue to have 222 budgeted positions in 2020, and the City expects to fill the remaining open positions during the year.
The budget includes three percent wage increases for all bargaining unit and non-bargaining positions.
Two new special purpose funds are created for the rental inspection program and for maintenance of city dams. Moneys designated for these funds will be dedicated entirely for these distinct purposes.
Additional maintenance staff are included within the Stormwater Fund to speed-up necessary stormwater management improvements.
O’Connell will formally present the budget to City Council on Monday, November 4 at 5:30 p.m.
Council will conduct a series of budget hearings over the next 45 days. A new budget must be in place by December 15.
The budget is available here https://www.allentownpa.gov/Government/City-Budget