Be cautious with raises

Gloversville officials – and city residents – need to make sure the city keeps its spending in check.

Already, there are worrisome signs officials may be patting themselves on the back for doing a good job instead of staying focused on cutting the tax rate.

In many ways, the $15.8 million 2014 budget adopted by the Gloversville Common Council recently is a success. While the budget is up $400,000 from this year’s plan, it still has a nearly 2 percent tax-levy decrease. Though the budget will use almost $800,000 of the city’s fund balance next year, Mayor Dayton King noted the fund balance is expected to be about $3.6 million by the end of this year.

In an age of seemingly never-ending rising costs for municipalities, being able to offer a tax decrease while avoiding any layoffs or reductions in services is noteworthy.

However, some of the raises in the budget seem to lack fiscal restraint.

The 2014 budget calls for increased salaries for several people, including some department heads, the mayor and council members. Notably, the council members voted to give themselves an extra $1,000 a year, boosting their annual pay to $3,500, a 40 percent increase.

It’s not the total amount of the raises – $18,860 – that is a concern, but the mind set behind them.

In the story announcing the adoption of the new budget, the mayor and members of the council said the city is in a position financially to give officials a raise.

As we have noted before, city property owners with property in the Gloversville Enlarged School District pay a combined $52.70 per $1,000 of assessed value in city, school and county taxes.

For all the work Gloversville officials have done to lower taxes, the city still has a long way to go.

Given that Mayor King said he doesn’t see tax decreases continuing unless there are drastic cuts in expenses or “a lot of economic upturn,” council members should be cautious about handing out raises, especially to themselves. The council should keep any increases to a small percentage.