Niagara Gazette

Local News

December 19, 2012

County tax rate going up

Niagara Gazette — The Niagara County Legislature adopted a $322 million 2013 budget late Tuesday. The spending plan will drive a modest tax rate increase for most taxpayers.

Legislators’ last-minute changes to County Manager Jeffrey Glatz’s proposed budget resulted in a 2013 property tax levy of $73 million — $1.3 million more than this year’s levy but still within the state’s annual so-called tax cap.

Changes to Glatz’s proposal including the raising of anticipated non-property tax income lines by about $1 million, and reduction of projected outlays — such as contingency funding and overtime across departments — by $260,000.

The adopted budget drives an average county tax rate of $7.72 per $1,000 of assessed value, a 9-cent or 1.16 percent increase over the 2012 rate. According to Real Property Director John Shoemaker, rates for individual municipalities are: Cambria, $7.73; Lewiston, $9.43; Niagara, $13.16; Pendleton, $7.96; Porter, $8.14; $7.73; Wheatfield, $11.22; Wilson, $8.40; Niagara Falls, $8.43; and North Tonawanda, $8.03.

Thirty-eight budget amendments were pitched, 25 of them by the three-member Democratic minority caucus. Taken together, the amendments would have produced a 0-percent tax levy increase, by cutting spending and tweaking non-property tax revenues to the tune of $2.6 million, according to Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls.

About half of the Democratic amendments were sunk by 3-12 votes against, including the minority’s annual call to eliminate three Republican-controlled patronage jobs/offices — the legislature’s clerk and public information officer, and the county auditor — for savings of $271,000 on salaries, fringe benefits and office costs.

Also rejected by the majority were amendments to restore six months of funding for two positions in the refuse district, a heavy equipment operator and an account clerk, whose posts are being eliminated on the prospect of the county closing its construction-and-demolition landfill next year; and the minority’s bid to restore a part-time post in the Office for the Aging so that three Niagara Falls-area senior congregate dining sites can stay open five days a week, instead of being reduced to three days a week, next year.

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