RYE, N.Y. -- A public hearing is set for Wednesday Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. on the City of Rye's proposed $50.8 million budget for 2015, which would raise property taxes by about 3.1 percent.
The annual budget, as introduced Nov. 5, includes hiring four new professional firefighters and a second assistant city manager to oversee Emergency Preparedness as well as the city's Fire and Police Departments. And the budget seeks to restore two city jobs left vacant in recent years: assistant recreation superintendent and park foreman.
The city budget must be approved by the end of this month.
If approved, each firefighter duty shift will have a minimum of four paid firefighters in 2016, an increase of one from this year. They'd be hired in October, and trained by January 2016. In past years, volunteer firefighters supplemented the professional staff, but only about half of Rye's 40 volunteers are trained to fight interior fires.
City Manager Frank Culross, while introducing the proposed budget, said, "It's time for the city to rebuild its organization."
"Right now, we're staffed for failure,'' Culross said of the paid firefighter ranks, totaling 16 career firefighters and one lieutenant. "We don't have enough people to do it right."
The budget proposal also includes some major road and energy savings improvements:
-- Reconstruction of the “five corners” intersection at Grace Church Street, Midland Avenue and Manursing Avenue.
-- An additional $1 million in annual spending on repaving streets, part of a 10-year road improvement plan.
-- Replacement of a water main at Brevoort Lane.
-- More than $2 million in energy-efficiency upgrades at City Hall.
There also is an $850,000 proposal to build a second TV studio for cable television inside City Hall.
The Rye Free Reading Room would see its annual budget increase by $25,000 next year to nearly $1.2 million.
The City of Rye is expected to maintain about $9 million in its "rainy day" reserves fund in 2015 under the proposed budget.