Tonawanda News

October 16, 2013

Small tax hike in city

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — City of Tonawanda residents will incur a 0.39 percent increase in property tax rate in 2014 if Mayor Ron Pilozzi’s proposal, unveiled Tuesday, is approved by the council.

Under the tentative plan the tax rate would increase from $16.61 to $16.68 per $1,000 of assessed evaluation. 

Put simpler, the owner of a home appraised at $100,000 will pay an additional $7 in city taxes next year.

Residents didn’t offer many comments, favorable or not, at Tuesday night’s hearing, but resident Roger Puchalski took issue with the planned salary increases.

“The council is getting a raise, the mayor is getting a rise ... only the dog warden isn’t getting a raise,” he said. 

Although the tax rate is set to increase under the plan, the tax levy will decrease by 0.04 percent — from $10.044 million to $10.040 million — due to a property owner successfully challenging their assessment.

City of Tonawanda Treasurer Joseph Hogenkamp noted the levy is under the state tax cap, which for Tonawanda, is a little over 2 percent this year. The city’s 2014 tax levy limit has been calculated at $10,366,493, while the proposed budget details a levy of $10,040,766. 

“That is not a factor this year,” he said.

State funding is constant at $2.6 million in the plan and together with sales tax, the two revenues make up 37 percent of the city’s income.

“The region really benefits from Canadian shoppers that come over,” Hogenkamp said. “Sales tax has really helped us keep taxes down.”

The city’s contribution to the state retirement system in 2014 is estimated at $1.85 million, a decrease of $66,000 from the current year, Hogenkamp said. The decrease comes after years of significant increases.

Meanwhile, hospital insurance expenses are set to increase from $3,445,000 to $3,600,000.

The budget will use $350,000 of the city’s fund balance, which now sits at $3 million, according to Hogenkamp. 

The sewer fund budget was also presented Tuesday night. Sewer rent revenue is set to increase from $1,945,161 in 2013 to $2,052,396. Hogenkamp said the increase is due to the city preparing for a series of infrastructure improvements that are mandated by the state. 

The council will now review the budget and must approve or reject it at a meeting in November. Last year, the council applied a 1 percent cut to the departmental budgets, excluding salaries, before approving the plan — which included a tax rate increase of 1.09 percent.

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.