By Mike Pidanick
It's again time to talk budget in North Tonawanda and, if all goes according to plan, residents won't have to worry about a property tax increase in 2017.
North Tonawanda Mayor Arthur G. Pappas initially revealed his budget proposal last week at a work session. He again announced the plan at Tuesday's Common Council meeting. The tax rate stands firm, below the tax cap rate, but a commitment to doing what's best for the community.
"Many tough decisions were made by this administration in producing a fiscally sound budget that is prudent for our residents," Pappas said. "It is my intent to avoid a tax increase on our residents when other means are available."
Property taxes will remain at $13.25 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Water and sewer usage rates will also remain unchanged. Instead, Pappas is using $1.73 million in undesignated fund balance to close the gap.
"This budget provides fundamental public services at a reasonable cost to our residents," Pappas said. "As this budget holds the line on property taxes, it also shows a commitment to public safety and maintenance and improvements to the public infrastructure."
There is a public budget hearing planned for 6 p.m. Nov. 9. On Nov. 15, the Common Council will vote on the proposal. And based on the remarks from council members, things seem to be well on track.
"I just want to thank the mayor and the department heads for putting together a responsible budget that we will be going over in the next week or two," Alderman Eric Zadzilka said. "It's making our job a little easier with no tax increase on that proposal."
A major issue for years in North Tonawanda has been the condition of the roads. Pappas stressed streets will remain a priority. And the budget includes about $300,000 for road construction - tacked on to the $900,000 expected from the state's Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program.
The budget also includes $350,000 to replace self-contained breathing apparatus gear for firefighters, and $100,000, matching an award from the state, to replace a rescue vehicle. Another $75,000 will go toward recycling totes as North Tonawanda looks to improve.