Rochester, New York

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Rochester is a city in New York, south of Lake Ontario in the United States. The Rochester metropolitan area is the second largest regional economy in New York State according to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, after the New York City metropolitan area. It is the county seat for Monroe County. Rochester's city population according to the 2010 census is approximately 210,565, making it New York's third most populous city after New York City and Buffalo. The Rochester Metropolitan Statistical Area (Greater Rochester), as of the 2010 census, had a population of 1,054,323, which illustrates growth from the July 1, 2009 estimate. It is at the center of a larger Metropolitan Area which encompasses and extends beyond Monroe County and includes Genesee County, Livingston County, Ontario County, Orleans County and Wayne County. This area, which is part of the Western New York region, had a population of 1,037,831 people at the time of the 2000 Census. As of April 1, 2010, the 2010 Census indicated that this population rose to 1,054,322 .

Website evaluation

Last rated on Feb. 12, 2013

The good

  • Budget
    • Budget documents are available.[1]
    • Budgets are archived to 2000.
  • Meetings
  • Council meeting schedules, minutes, and agendas are posted.[2]
    • Minutes and agendas are archived to 2000.
  • Elected Officials
    • Names and contact information is available for elected officials.[3][4]
  • Administration
    • Administrative officials' names and contact information is available.[4]
  • Permits and Zoning
    • Building permit forms are posted.[5]
    • Zoning information is posted.[6]
  • Audits
  • Financial audits are posted.[7]
    • Audits are archived to 2000.
    • Audits conducted by the Office of Public Integrity are accessible.[8]
  • Contracts
    • Current bids are posted.[9]
    • Awarded bids are posted.[10]
  • Public Records
    • Public records request information is provided, along with necessary forms and contact information.[11]
  • Taxes
    • City tax rate information is provided.[12]

The bad

  • Lobbying
    • City funded lobbying information is not provided.


The city's proposed FY 2011-2012 budget contains expenditures totaling $467,098,100, a cut of approximately $5 million from the previous fiscal year. According to the Mayor's message, this small reduction is largely the product of a small accounting change made by the city. The budget attempts to close a nearly $50 million dollar gap, driven largely by the use of $12 million in reserves from the previous fiscal year, a 29% increase in pension costs, a $2.2 million reduction in state aid, a 14% increase in the cost of health insurance, and anticipated employee wage increases.[13]

The budget process begins with the Mayor's proposed budget, which is then considered by the City Council. At least one public hearing is required. Fiscal years run from July 1 to June 30 of the next calendar year.[13]

Public Employees

Elected officials

The City Council is made up of five at-large elected members, and four members representing individual districts. Members are:[14]

Name Title District
Carolee A. Conklin Councilmember At-large
Matt Haag Councilmember At-large
Dana K. Miller Councilmember At-large
Jacklyn Ortiz Councilmember At-large
Loretta C. Scott Councilmember At-large
Adam McFadden Councilmember South District
Carla M. Palumbo Councilmember Northwest District
Elaine M. Spaull Vice President East District
Lovely A. Warren President Northeast District

The current mayor of Rochester is Thomas S. Richards. He was sworn into office on April 11, 2011 after a special election replace the former mayor, Robert J. Duffy, who became Lieutenant Governor of New York State. The Mayor's office is the city's executive branch of government, responsible for the administration of city affairs, appointing department heads, preparing a budget, and more.[15]

Administrative officials

A list of key administrative officials, including contact information, can be found here.


Rochester city employee salaries are compiled by the Empire Center. According to 2011 data, the highest paid city employee is listed as a "General Employee," and is paid $131,152 per year. The ten highest salaries range from the listed high to $118,953.[16]


According to the Mayor's proposed 2011-2012 budget, the city has seen a 29% increase in pension costs. This has been a large driver of the city's $50 million budget gap.[13] Pension costs currently total $33.5 million, and are expected to continue growing. To address the city's problem, the same budget proposed the creation of a one time, $15,000 city employee retirement benefit.[17]


Rochester does not provide information on taxpayer funded lobbying efforts.

Transparency & public records

Freedom of Information request information can be found here.


The city collects a property tax as its main tax levy. The tax is two-tiered, with one, two, and three family residences being taxed at a "homestead rate," and all other properties being taxed at a "non-homestead rate." Properties are assessed at full market value.[12]

The proposed 2011-2012 budget included and small property tax increase, remaining within the state's required 2% cap. Under these changes, the total homestead burden will increase from $2,185.36 to $2,244.95. The typical non-homestead burden will increase from $11,815.48 to $12,002.16. The city's total property tax levy is $167,149,400.[13]

External links