By Timothy Chipp
There are few things constant in Western New York autumns. Leaves changing colors, Buffalo Bills-themed decorations adorning residences and businesses, and local towns finalizing their budgets for the upcoming calendar years.
For the Town of Niagara, the budgeting process finalized Wednesday as the Town Board put its stamp of approval on the upcoming 2024 spending and revenue plans, as well as the town’s tax levy and rates for the upcoming year, Supervisor Lee Wallace said.
And though alarm bells have been ringing the last few years, the town is once again planning a year funded without the use of a general, townwide tax.
Especially postpandemic, town officials have spoken about the town’s need for revenue while approving projects like the Amazon warehouse facility on Lockport Road and finishing up a pair of new solar farms in local landfills.
The approved general fund budget will cost a little more than $4.7 million, which is about $300,000 more than the approved current year plan from last fall.
This $300,000 increase year-over-year accounts for nearly all of the jump in total spending the town estimates for next year, itself a roughly $300,000 jump to an estimated $10.6 million.
Though there was some movement across many of the five special taxing districts set up to help manage operations.
The town has special funds for the Highway Department, its water improvement area, sewer operations, fire protection and lighting. And all but the lighting district, with a $125,000 budget, will see a change in spending and revenues.
But not all of it is bad news for taxpayers.
Most notably, while the general fund will see an increase, the town’s highway fund ($1.5 million) spending will decrease about $100,000 from the current year.
Increases hit the other special funds, with water ($1.2 million), sewer ($2.4 million) and fire ($700,000) seeing slight bumps from current-year levels.
Funding these special fund changes will be a tax levy (the total amount collected) of about $3 million.
Next Town Board Meeting
Town officials are expected to consider changing the zoning code regarding self-storage units in commercial zones at the Town Board meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall, 7105 Lockport Road.
A public hearing – one of two set for the night – will precede any decision and allows for anyone to speak on the matter.
The change will restrict new self-storage facilities, including all warehousing, from being built in commercial zones throughout the town and, instead, forcing them into industrial zones. It’s a reversion to a previous zoning code that closes a loophole a previous town board created, town officials said in September.
Officials are also expected to decide on site plan approval and State Environmental Quality Review of the proposed Uniland Development project at 3401 Military Road, near the railroad overpass.
A public hearing was held at September’s regular meeting regarding the project.