Niagara County lawmakers voted Tuesday to empanel two commissions to examine key consolidation efforts during the 2011 budget year while passing the 2011 Niagara County budget by a 12-7 vote.
The county's budget, impacted heavily by increased Medicaid and pension costs passed onto local government by New York state's government, included a tax increase of 1.9 percent in the county's full-value tax rate, an increase that keeps county tax rates below their 2008 levels.
In the Town of Niagara, the projected county tax rate for 2011 is $12.59 per $1,000 assessed value, up 24 cents, or 1.9 percent, from 2010. In Wheatfield, the projected county tax rate for 2011 is $10.74 per $1,000 assessed value, up 35 cents, or 3.4 percent, from 2010. In Lewiston, the projected county tax rate is $9.27 per $1,000 assessed value, up 50 cents, or 5.7 percent, from 2010.
Overall, the $310 million spending plan increases the county's full-value tax rate from $7.35 per $1,000 of assessed value to $7.49 per $1,000, a 14-cent change. This follows a 2.5 percent reduction in 2010, part of a five-year tax reduction program advanced by the Legislature's majority.
The 1.9-percent increase comes after a spate of reductions - including the elimination of 57 positions championed by Legislators Tony Nemi, I-Lockport, Vincent Sandonato, R-LaSalle, and John Syracuse, R-Newfane - after the final budget offered up by former County Manager Greg Lewis came in at a projected 5.4 percent tax increase that lawmakers deemed unacceptable.
Syracuse also sponsored two measures, one of which would direct new County Manager Jeff Glatz to examine what cost savings can be produced through the consolidation of services offered by attorneys serving various government agencies, and a separate resolution, co-sponsored by Legislator Renae Kimble, D-Niagara Falls, that will instruct Glatz to examine the consolidation of facilities utilized by county agencies with operations in all three of the county's cities.