Niagara Gazette

Local News

August 15, 2013

Town officials talk taxes

Niagara Gazette — TOWN OF NIAGARA - When you're the smallest town, population-wise at least, in Niagara County, but have the needs of a large town due to an abundance of commercial property, a financial disconnect can develop between what services are provided and how they're funded.

Such is the world the Town of Niagara has come to know. On one hand, it's home to the Fashion Outlets of Niagara and the shopping district up and down Military Road. Those stores pull in a majority of sales tax dollars Niagara County collects due to heavy tourist traffic.

But there's the other side, where a police department is being operated, highway, water and sewer departments are pushed to limits to meet high traffic and usage demands. Funding these expensive operations rely on revenues the town doesn't see coming in the long-term future, at least not in a high enough supply to keep up with increasing costs. So some on the Niagara Town Board are looking to make some changes.

"We can either make some small changes now or face some rather big changes later down the road," Deputy Supervisor Danny Sklarski said during a work session Thursday. He's proposing the town investigate some downsizing of town personnel or face some consequences in the future.

Consequences like a general town tax residents would have to burden, one currently not in existence. It's one of the big changes he alluded to in his statement opening discussion of the topic.

With a declining population, spurred lately by the loss of Sabre Park residents moved as part of a planned expansion of the outlet mall, even a town-wide tax might not be capable of accomplishing the needs of the town, given the level just estimated for the upcoming state-wide property tax cap all towns must deal with.

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