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Watertown council passes budget with 1.5 percent tax increase

Payne Horning
WRVO News File Photo
Watertown City Council

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.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.