Budget to increase property tax by 2.9%
By David Yarger
On Tuesday night, City of North Tonawanda Mayor Arthur Pappas gave his 2019 budget message to those attending the first Common Council meeting of the month.
Pappas' message was designed to announce plans for the year's upcoming budget to the council, as well as residents and department heads.
Pappas said this year's budget will increase property tax by 2.9 percent. A home assessed at $100,000 will see an increase in property tax of $38. Pappas was quick to note that over the past 10 years, there were three years of no tax increase, three years of decrease and four years of a less than 1 percent increase. Pappas added the 2019 total budget is $831,656 higher than 2018's.
Of the increases, Pappas said in his message, "This budget provides fundamental public services at a reasonable cost to our residents. It also shows a commitment to public safety and maintenance and improvement of public facilities and infrastructure. Although, this shows a slight tax increase, this is due to rising costs in all area, including insurance, utilities, contractual expenses, police dispatch, equipment, and materials with this proposed budget.
"Also, recycling expenses have increased to $35 a ton, which is an expense previously not accrued."
Pappas added, the city used to pay $5 per ton of recycling, so the cost has increased significantly.
In addition to $750,000 the city expects to receive from New York state, Pappas set aside $350,000 towards road repair, for a combined total of $1.08 million. Pappas said, as of the meeting, the city had milled and paved 15.08 lane miles of city roads, which is a record.
In order to successfully repair the roads, Pappas also stressed the importance of updated and safer equipment to operate, as he budgeted $140,000 for newer equipment.
Improvements to the city's golf course - Deerwood Golf Course - was also appropriated. Pappas said he budgeted $220,000, in addition to the $400,000 from last year, to improve the irrigation system, cart paths, equipment and sand bunkers. Reason for the improvements: "It is a positive quality of life venue for both residents and non-residents. It is a place of recreation of which we are proud. It needs to be maintained properly in order to continually attract golfers, and to compete with other courses."
Pappas, in his second to last paragraph of his message said, "This budget shows our commitment to provide necessary services and protection our community should expect. Serving the taxpayers of North Tonawanda and helping our city to continue progressing is my goal. Our duty as elected officials is to provide basic services in an efficient and cost-effective manner, by ensuring your money is spent wisely and appropriately. I believe this budget accomplishes this mission.
During closing remarks, Pappas, as well as Common Council President Eric Zadzilka, added additional comments in regard to the proposed budget.
"None of us like to raise taxes," Pappas said. "If anyone thinks for one minute that people get together on this council with the purpose of trying to raise taxes, that's not true. We have to pay the taxes, too - our friends, our families have to pay the taxes. Nobody wants to raise taxes.
"What we have to keep in mind, is this city has been very fiscally responsible. ... Compare that with cities our size in the area, you'll see North Tonawanda is doing real well."
Pappas praised the city's department heads as well, because he knew the budget process has been a long and strenuous process.
Zadzilka added, "Things go up - the cost of services. We want these vital services to be provided to you. We don't want to cut the services, we need to get those done. We want to give the department the tools to get it done. ... As these costs go up, we have to find a way to sustain the budget and I think raising our taxes over nine years ... 4 percent, when you have municipalities raising it 10 percent in one year, going over the tax cap, violating the tax cap. There's a lot of work put into this budget, I'm telling you."
The council announced two public hearings will be held regarding the budget. Both hearings begin at 6 p.m. Nov. 14 and 15.
The full proposed budget can be viewed at http://www.northtonawanda.org/documents/budgets/Mayor's%20Budget%20_2019_.pdf.