Tonawanda News — Also rejected by the majority were amendments to restore six months of funding for two positions in the refuse district, a heavy equipment operator and an account clerk, whose posts are being eliminated on the prospect of the county closing its construction-and-demolition landfill next year; and the minority’s bid to restore a part-time post in the Office for the Aging so that three Niagara Falls-area senior congregate dining sites can stay open five days a week, instead of being reduced to three days a week, next year.
During the meeting, Legislature Chairman Bill Ross, C-Wheatfield, read aloud a letter to the panel from the NAACP, Niagara Falls chapter, objecting to the dining site cuts. The letter observed that while there are 22 congregate dining sites countywide, only a few are “targeted” for service reduction and two of them are attended predominantly by minorities: African Americans at St. John’s AME Church and Native Americans at Tuscarora House. If spending cuts are required, an equal cut to all 22 sites would be fairer, the letter said.
Despite all the votes cast along partisan lines Tuesday, the caucuses managed a show of cooperative spirit in the number of budget amendments that ended up being passed unanimously.
Among them was the minority’s proposal to increase sales tax income projections by $900,000 next year, versus a GOP caucus proposal to raise the projection by $500,000. Legislator Tony Nemi, I-Lockport, withdrew the latter amendment and the body voted only on the amendment sponsored by Virtuoso, Jason Zona and Owen Steed, both also Niagara Falls Democrats.
A bipartisan budget amendment by Virtuoso and Ross paved the way to four years of annual raises for newly re-elected Sheriff James Voutour. The sheriff’s pay, $98,245 for each of the last four years, will be raised to $100,701 next year, $103,219 in 2014, $105,799 in 2016 and $108,444 in 2016. By law the legislature must set the sheriff’s salary before his four-year term begins.