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The importance of starting early

A growing budget deficit, currently at 2 million dollars. Expenses growing faster than revenues by at least double the rate. The debt obligation paid out of the general fund growing due to the Attorney General’s investigation of RVT’s prior misappropriation of funds, with additional financial penalties to the city lingering out there. The City’s tax base continuing to erode though population loss, increased blight, and lack of strategic planning.

Each of these reasons highlight the importance of starting budget discussions early and demonstrate why City Council has been and continues to be eager to start these discussions with the Administration as early as possible. These are substantial structural and foundational issues facing the financial future of the City, and these issues will take time, commitment, and thoughtfulness to address.

Given the importance of this, I am glad to see the Administration accommodate the ongoing request of City Council and the recent request from the Finance Committee to begin budget discussions much earlier in the year. Over the past 2.5 years, there have been numerous ideas and requests from Council on areas that could be explored to further maximize spending to minimize the tax burden on our constituents and rein in the City’s budget deficit. As these preliminary budget discussions unfold, I will look forward to seeing the results of the Administration’s efforts in investigating these items and how they can be used to manage the tax burden of our constituents.

One of Mayor Slaughter’s campaign pledges in 2019 was to get the city’s financial house in order. I agreed with this campaign pledge, and still do, and am glad we’re finally taking steps to begin to address this as each of these items are foundational to doing so. And although it’s taken us 2.5 years to get to the point to where we’re working on these issues proactively and ahead of schedule, I’m hopeful that this proactive process will yield good results for the City. I commend City Council’s Finance Committee and chair Liz Miele on their diligence in pursuit of these early budget discussions and leadership in addressing the City’s foundational financial challenges.

Adam Yoder is the current Williamsport City Council President. Elected to City Council in 2019, he has previously served on the Finance, Economic Revitalization, and Public Safety Committees.

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