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Rochester votes to ban conversion therapy, not to raise property tax

Miguel Octavio
Updated: September 22, 2020 12:21 AM
Created: September 21, 2020 11:40 PM

(ABC 6 News) - The Rochester City Council voted on key decisions Monday afternoon.

Council members are planning not to raise the property tax levy for 2021. They voted 6-1 to certify the preliminary tax levy set at $79.5 million.

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The city is projecting to lose $97.8 million in its budget compared to 2020. The recommended budget currently sits as $476 million.

The council also passed a resolution to ban conversion therapy -- a practice that tries to change someone's sexuality.

There has been no scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness. 

Council President Randy Staver was the sole nay on the vote. He said the city doesn't have actual authority to enforce the ban and added the council should use its power to adopt resolutions that have the ability to make change. 

The city projects to lose revenue from factors like lack of hotel and lodging taxes, and public transportation use. 

Hotels like Aspen Suites and Select have had to adjust amid the pandemic.

"COVID's really taught us how strong you are," said general manager Laurel Schacht. "If I were to look back on the whole experience, I would say it's been real emotional."

Schacht said she's down at least 30% normal occupancy and it will cost the business millions of dollars. 

Rochester estimates to lose at least $1.7 million in hotel tax revenue. 

"We all hope the economic recovery goes quickly," Staver said.

Looking ahead, Schacht said she'll have to stay strong, just like she has these past few months. 

"I think it all depends on how safe everybody stays," Schacht said. "We're just going to have to rely on people staying safe to keep our business going."

A public hearing for the 2021 budget in Rochester is scheduled for early December. 


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