By David Yarger
North Tonawanda Mayor Arthur Pappas presented his 2018 budget message to the audience at Tuesday night's Common Council meeting.
Pappas said the general fund budget reflects no property tax increase for 2018. He added the water and sewer rates also remain unchanged. Pappas' message stated the general funds appropriations for 2018 are $232,383 less than the 2017 budget.
For 2018, Pappas said he's looking to make improvements in repairing city streets and sidewalks. In addition to an anticipated $730,000 grant from New York, Pappas has appropriated $350,000 toward the improvements, for a combined $1.08 million.
Another site Pappas is looking to improve is Deerwood golf course, the city's public course.
Pappas said, "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 noted improvements would be made to the irrigation system, cart paths, equipment and sand bunkers. Pappas set aside $400,000 for those improvements.
Pappas finished by saying, "I want to thank all city department heads and their staff for the important part they played in the formation of this budget."
The meeting continued with Krista Vince Garland, who spoke to the council about adjusting the proposed definition of bullying listed in the NT city code, section 70A - Promoting General Welfare of Minors in Public Places.
Garland's revised definition said, "Harassment and bullying shall mean the creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by threats, intimidation or abuse, including cyberbullying that reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a person to fear for his or her physical safety; or reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause physical injury or emotional harm to a person.
"Acts of harassment and bullying shall include, but not be limited to, those acts based on a person's actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex. For the purposes of this definition the term 'threats, intimidation or abuse' shall include verbal and non-verbal actions."
The council later approved a proposed amendment to that city code with the future approval by the city attorney.
In other motions, the council moved to replenish the building and grounds budget for the janitorial and building maintenance supplies, as well as the appointment of Nicholas J. Iwanicki as police lieutenant for the NTPD and traffic safety recommendations revolving around terrace parking application around Tremont Street, increased parking on Oliver Street between Miller Street and Sommer Street and placing time limits on parking between 115 and 119 Gallagher St.
The council granted permission to close the Renaissance Bridge on Nov. 11, for an annual Veterans Day observance and Oct. 14, for the Haunted Harbor. In addition to the bridge being closed for Haunted Harbor, Webster Street will additionally be closed.
The council granted permission to the NT school district to burn the jinx at the Lady Jacks softball field, as well as, the Lumber City Church to dedicate the block of Vandervoort from Robinson Street to Keil Street to "Hope Way."
In closing comments by citizens, Richard Klocke thanked the council for work they did on his street. According to Klocke, there was "a dangerous situation," where a sidewalk was becoming a mud pit and he was worried for the well-being of others.
Austin Tylec also spoke, questioning Pappas' speech, referring to an article he found, which said "no tax increases for North Tonawanda in 2017," which he followed by saying, "Then the election happened. Nov. 16, 2016; North Tonawanda approves 2017 budget with tax increases. So, the same thing was said about not increasing the water or property tax and then, after the election, something happens. To me that questions who do we trust before an election?"
Pappas responded after the meeting, saying, "Once the mayor proposes the budget, it's presented to council. The council controls the money. They decide if they're gonna go with it or not go with it, that's how it works. They control the money, I don't."
Sonia Douza explained her discomfort with the additional parking around Oliver Street, as well as, a problem with a building on Sommer Street that hasn't been "followed through" for over 30 years.
Tamara Van Hise spoke about a cemetery across from Bryant Street that hasn't been properly maintained. She suggested to the council that something be done, as it seems like a "dishonor" to the people there.
Dave Conte, chairman of the botanical garden committee, also spoke about recent events and future events the committee is planning, as well as the group attempting to become a 501(c)(3).
The next North Tonawanda Common Council meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17.