Niagara Gazette

Local News

November 25, 2013

Council trims $150K from Dyster's budget plan

The Niagara Falls City Council approved $150,000 in spending cuts to Mayor Paul Dyster's proposed 2014 budget at its annual budget amendment session.

City lawmakers adopted 46 of 66 proposed budget amendments put to vote during a budget session before Monday night's city council meeting, reducing Dyster's $95.8 million spending plan.

Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian said he's happy the council was able to reduce the city budget through amendments, but had hoped that more of the amendments proposed by Councilman Sam Fruscione, Councilman Robert Anderson Jr. and himself would have found support with their colleagues Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti and Councilman Charles Walker.

"We went through and took things out that we knew we could get by with," Choolokian said.

Dyster's proposed budget includes no tax increase, no cuts in services and no job cuts, but uses more than $4 million in reserves to close a gap.

Choolokian said he, Fruscione and Anderson had proposed more than $550,000 in cuts which, had they all gone through, would have reduced property taxes by more than 1 percent.

The city still faces long-term structural budget issues and Choolokian would have liked for the taxpayers to see their taxes reduced before those issues cause problems that would not allow for a decrease in the future.

"If we could have decreased the taxes and lessened the blow for next year, I think we have a lot of troubled times coming," Choolokian said.

Anderson, who often votes with Choolokian and Fruscione, missed the meeting due to an illness.

The council adopted budget amendments that:

• Added $20,000 to the salary of both Fire Chief Thomas Colangelo and Police Chief Bryan DalPorto. Both measures were approved unanimously.

• Reduced the salary of City Administrator Donna Owens by $35,000. The council voted unanimously to reduce Owens $110,000 salary by $40,000 as part of last year's budget amendments process, a move that Dyster unsuccessfully vetoed. Dyster attempted to restore her salary in this year's proposed budget. If this amendment, which passed unanimously, is upheld, Owens would make $5,000 more than she did last year.

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