Proceed with caution

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King and Finance Commissioner Bruce VanGenderen recently sounded the alarm that Gloversville’s financial future is in danger, with an $800,000 deficit projected for 2015.

A look at the numbers shows health insurance costs for the city’s employees continue to rise at a rate greater than the rate of inflation and grant money used to pay for additional police officers is running out by the end of the year.

The city has some positives. Sales tax revenues continue to increase at about $600,000 per year, thanks largely to the Walmart Supercenter, and the city has a sizable fund balance of $4.5 million, which it could use to fill the $800,000 deficit for 2015. However, the city is at 93 percent of its constitutional property tax limit, which means it can only raise an additional $505,000 in property tax revenue. It’s also possible, and perhaps probable, that sales tax revenue may level off, leaving the city with few options for raising more money.

In light of these conditions, Gloversville should proceed with extreme caution regarding any spending increases. No new spending initiatives, particularly the creation of new employee positions, should be passed without a plan to pay for them that does not include raising taxes. Indeed, the city should consider eliminating positions wherever possible through attrition, if those positions are unnecessary. The city should continue to seek concessions from its public employee unions to lower health insurance costs and keep employee raises at a reasonable level.

Property taxes in Gloversville are much too high and income levels are much too low to justify increasing the tax burden. Any plan that raises city taxes would be unacceptable.