Watertown city councilors worked for weeks to whittle down an 8.7 percent tax increase included in former city manager Sharon Addison's proposed budget, going through departmental requests line by line. And on Monday night, they succeeded in their goal of getting it below the state mandated tax cap - passing a budget with a 1.5 percent tax increase.
"This was bare-knuckle budgeting," said Councilor Mark Walczyk. "We really dug in and we were responsible and we forced accountability to the taxpayers."
The council used $2 million out of Watertown's reserves to make that happen. While Walczyk says this is a responsible budget, it does invest in the city.
"A lot of that was put into capital projects and infrastructure and vehicles that we have been kicking the can down the road on for years, returning those taxpayers dollars and that hydro revenue directly back into the city by way of services," Walczyk said.
Among those investments are new sidewalks, renovations to the Court Street bridge and a new drug task force detective. Though not as much will be spent on the sidewalk replacement program as what was originally budgeted.
During their meeting, the council also opted for a new bathhouse for the pool the city is building in Thompson Park. The expected cost of the new project is estimated to be about $2.5 million.