Rochester City Council has approved a new budget, with just a few changes from the plan first proposed by Mayor Tom Richards in May.
The nearly 482 million dollar budget was approved unanimously by City Council, along with a change made by council members in what turned out to be one of the more controversial parts of the budget hearing process. That amendment altered the original plan by the mayor to eliminate the mounted patrol unit. Richards had felt the seven officers involved could be better utilized elsewhere, such as fighting gang violence.
After a Facebook page and other protests from people in the community who said they liked having the horses, city council came up with a plan to retain four of the seven officers for the mounted patrol unit, and cutting the number of horses in that unit from seven to five. The city will also look at alternate funding sources for the mounted patrol unit in the future.
The spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year doesn't have any major layoffs of city employees or cuts in services. There is not a tax rate increase, although homeowners will pay slightly more in taxes and while businesses pay less. That's because of a state mandate that shifts some commercial taxes to residential properties.