News Release - Mayor Keeps Faith with City Taxpayers, Delivers ‘Flat Tax Budget’

City of Rochester

News Release

(Friday, May 15, 2015) — Rochester Mayor A. Lovely Warren today unveiled her second annual operating budget for the City of Rochester – holding property taxes flat and reducing spending for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The Mayor’s spending plan is more than $2 million smaller than last year ($501.6 million versus $503.6 million last year).

“Many of our city’s families have been struggling to make ends meet and face ever-increasing costs,” said Mayor Warren. “I have worked very hard to make Rochester’s City Government live within its means so we can keep from adding more to our citizens often difficult financial burden. To keep faith with our taxpayers, my budget for 2015-16 maintains services while reducing spending and holds the property tax levy flat.”

More jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities are the three overarching areas of focus in the Mayor’s Proposed 2015-16 Budget.

The Mayor has continued to seek additional aid from New York State and her efforts have been met with significant assistance from Albany in the form of $2 million in unrestricted aid as well as a $20.7 million commitment for capital grants through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY). Going forward, the City will continue to make the case for a more equitable share of State funding through the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) program.

“Success in obtaining state aid would not have been possible without my partnership and positive working relationship with Governor Cuomo; Assembly members Gantt, Morelle, Bronson; Senators Robach and Funke and our entire State Delegation,” said Mayor Warren. “I thank them for their support.”

An unprecedented level of citizen input informed the Mayor’s budget process this year. Citizens were engaged through a facilitated meeting at City Hall which drew approximately 200 active and engaged participants. Additionally, the Mayor conducted a telephone town hall discussion where more than 2,700 residents participated and facilitated an online survey which engaged nearly 400 citizens.

Themes that emerged from citizen input included: support for police body cameras and the return to community policing; support for City funding of housing repair and rehabilitation programs; support for City investment in neighborhood infrastructure, including streets, sidewalks, housing rehabilitation and repair programs, vacant house demolitions, and the roof replacement program; demand for homework help and mentoring programs at recreation centers; support for investment in festivals and events; a desire for the City to continue to operate Durand Eastman Beach for swimming. A full report on citizen input is included for the first time in this Budget.

The 2015-16 Budget includes a net increase of 11 full-time positions, including five positions associated with the newly created Office of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives funded by the Bloomberg Foundation. The Budget also calls for adding part-time and seasonal staff and shifts resources from certain satellite sites to primary sites in the Department of Recreation and Youth Services.

Despite the increase in full-time staff, up to six full-time and five part-time layoffs may occur as a result of staffing changes, reorganizations and other reductions -- though the Mayor hopes to reduce this number through attrition, reassignment and/or retirement.

“I know the recession has been hard on Rochester’s families,” said Mayor Warren. “Household bills and costs always seem to go up and these rising expenses hit the working poor, seniors on fixed incomes and all families in a significant way. By holding the line on our tax levy, I have tried to ease this burden for Rochester residents and I also want to give our area’s employers an opportunity to invest more dollars in new jobs instead of higher taxes.”

Visit to view the Proposed Budget document in its entirety. On the next page are some highlights of investments in these areas contained in the 2015-16 Budget.


News Media: For more information, contact Press Officer Jessica Alaimo at 428-7135.

Investments in More Jobs and Neighborhood Development include: 


  • Expansion of Operation Transformation Rochester (OTR) 
  • Funds for job training for OTR graduates 
  • Continued support for Business Development, Financial Assistance and Neighborhood Commercial Assistance programs 
  • Continued funding for the Pathways to Public Safety and Firefighter Trainee Programs 
  • Funding for Police and Fire Recruit classes 
  • Continued funding for the Summer of Opportunity Program 
  • Funding for City interns 


Investments in Safer and More Vibrant Neighborhoods include:

  • Up to $2 million for police body cameras 
  • Continued funding for Pathways to Peace, with a renewed focus to the program based upon an evaluation done by RIT 
  • Additional funding for the Roofing Program 
  • Continued funding for Emergency Assistance and Targeted Housing Repair Programs 
  • Capital funding for demolitions 
  • Increased funding for Special Events 
  • Increased mowing for vacant lots and street malls 
  • Continued operation of Durand Eastman Beach 
  • Investments in R-Center upgrades, including play apparatus 


Investments in Better Schools and Educational Opportunities include: 


  • Additional positions in DRYS to support programming 
  • Partnering with the Rochester City School District to fund literacy aides in Libraries and in R-Centers 
  • Increased programming at R-Centers including STEM, literacy and health-focused activities 
  • Funding for developmental screening for 3-year-olds 


Investments in Innovation and Efficiency include: 


  • Expansion of the Office of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives through the Bloomberg Innovation Grant 
  • Receipt and use of the IBM Smarter Cities Grant 
  • Establishment of the Capital Assistance Fund in conjunction with the Investing in Manufacturing Community Partnership (IMCP) 
  • Continued work with the Democracy Collaborative to create a Market Driven Community Cooperative 
  • Funding of up to $3.3 million to replace street lights with LED fixtures 
  • Funding for the transition to single stream recycling 


We are able to make the investments above without cuts to critical services because our recent financial performance has been strong and because we received significant aid from New York State for 2015-16.

Closing the Budget Gap

  • We closed our $34.8 million all funds gap through: 
  • $20.7 million Capital Grants through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York 
  • $4.5 million Use of Retirement Reserve 
  • $3.4 million Use of Tax Relief Reserve  
  • $2.0 million Additional NYS Unrestricted Aid 
  • $1.2 million Enterprise Fund Fee increases 
  • $1.2 million Use of repurposed cash capital 
  • $ 0.8 million Departmental Reductions and Efficiencies 
  • $ 0.8 million Additional Transfer from Premium and Interest Account 
  • $ 0.2 million Net of other changes