City Council passes $223 million budget, despite opposition from two members
(THE MED CITY BEAT) - Rochester City Council passed the 2015 budget Monday night by a vote of 5 to 2.
The $223 million budget is down about $20 million from last year. That's because the costs of constructing a new senior center were included in the 2014 budget.
City Council members Michael Wojcik and Mark Bilderback voted against the budget. Following the meeting, Wojcik explained his decision on his personal blog and in a video address posted to YouTube.
"We always talk about doing it better the next time around, and we're not," said Wojcik. "We're not funding the things we need to fund; we're not being responsible with our dollars; our priorities are out of whack."
The budget was expected to include funding for two new police officers. The cost of each officer is estimated at $125,000 per year, including equipment and training. Police Chief Roger Peterson had requested funding for 10 positions.
The Council voted 5 to 2 against a plan to clear more bike paths in northwest Rochester. The proposal would have cost about $39,000 a year.
"That's often the challenge of local government," said City Council President Randy Staver in a recent interview with The Med City Beat. "These are really worthy endeavors, but we just have to make some choices."
- The cost to permanently move Rochesterfest to Soldiers Field is now estimated at about $132,000. The Post-Bulletin reports the Council will take up the plan in the future. The annual festival is being forced to permanently move from its previous spot in front of the Mayo Civic Center because of an upcoming renovation project.
- The Council decided against voting on a plan to impose a monthly gas fee on homes and businesses. The fee would have cost $1 per home and $2 per business in 2015. KTTC-TV reports Staver wanted to give the public more time to learn about the proposal. A public hearing is scheduled for Jan. 21.
- Council members voted against giving themselves and the mayor a raise. The Post-Bulletin reports Wojcik and Sandra Means dissented, arguing that higher wages make the positions more attractive to underrepresented portions of the population.