ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – The Ithaca City Common Council unanimously approved a resolution giving the mayor and city controller authority to make $5.4 million in budget cuts for the remainder of 2020. The cuts will include unpaid furlough of approximately 87 city employees.
City budget officials estimate the city will have a deficit of $4-13 million this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The city payroll costs $560,000 a week.
Ithaca is home to a couple colleges, Mayor Svante Myrick referred to the departure of the students as one reason for the city’s loss of revenue.
“The services the city delivers, the things people can count on are all things we have to recalibrate in the coming months,” he said. “All of us. Because a third of the community is gone.”
Ithaca budget officials said decreases in sales taxes, parking fees and expected reductions in future state aid were some of the other losses the city is facing because of the pandemic.
Some of the cuts several Council members said were most difficult were the elimination of programs for young people.
Myrick has been increasingly critical of New York’s congressional delegation for its failure to push for an emergency aid package to help cities. He said the residents will suffer because of the cuts Council has to make.
“If we cut these services, life will be worse here in the City of Ithaca,” he said during the meeting. “And still we’ve got to do it because we don’t have a lot of good options. And we do need better federal representatives who will come through and deliver for us so we’re not forced to make these choices.”
The council also passed a resolution to reduce the type of health insurance plan for the mayor, Common Council and other managerial staff. The change will result in a savings of $128,000. That vote was divided, 7-3.