Niagara Gazette —
The city's 2013 budget has been adopted with no tax increase and minimal cuts to services.
The city council sustained 12 of Mayor Paul Dyster's 39 vetoes to budget amendments, putting $437,000 of the $3.1 million in cuts that would have resulted from the 150 amendments back into the budget.
Under the adopted budget, the 2013 tax levy will be $28.1 million, coming in at $125,000 more than last year. The homestead property tax rate will be $17.66 per $1,000 of assessed value, virtually unchanged from 2012, and the non-homestead tax rate will be $30.45 per $1,000 of assessed value, 95 cents less than last year.
Council Chairman Sam Fruscione said Councilman Glenn Choolokian's budget expertise and the hard work of all council members secured a budget that was balanced without tax increases.
"It's shown that we pretty much had a unified council working behind us and supporting the council's proposal," Fruscione said.
Choolokian said taxpayers and business owners in Niagara Falls are getting good news this budget year compared to the outlook of an 8.3 percent tax increase for homeowners, service cuts and city hall lay-offs as was proposed in the executive budget.
"It's a good day for the people of Niagara Falls," Choolokian said.
Four of the five council members - also known as a "super majority" - are needed to override any mayoral veto. On Monday, the council voted to override several significant mayoral vetoes.
Lawmakers denied Dyster's bid to prevent them from eliminating $3.1 million in city funding earmarked for the state-run USA Niagara Development Corp. in 2013. The city has given the money to the agency out of a pool of state aid since the state-run downtown development agency was established in 2001. City lawmakers argued that the state aid that has been delivered to the agency each year was needed to plug the city's financial hole next year.