Tonawanda News

March 7, 2013

NT sizes down capital projects

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — North Tonawanda eliminated nearly $400,000 from its projected capital budget approved last year, narrowing the original sum down to $1.9 million. 

Mark W. Dotterweich, the city accountant, said a new fire truck and an air screen at the city’s wastewater treatment plant were taken off this year’s slate of expenses. 

Instead, the bulk of the loan will go toward finishing the second phase of construction work at the City Marina, other projects at the wastewater treatment plant including a carbon regenerator and repaving of the city’s ailing streets. 

More than $1 million will be applied to those three projects alone, while the purchase of three police cruisers, a dump truck salter for the Department of Public Works, improvements at Memorial Pool and the expansion of the city’s larger recycling totes will top most of the remainder of the loan. 

Council President Rich Andres said the fire truck was removed as Chief John Lapham continues to push for a state grant that could save the city an additional $30,000 to $50,000, while the wastewater treatment equipment would have cost vastly more than was originally budgeted. 

“We have to do with our capital budget what makes sense for our general budget,” Andres said. “Things change, priorities change, certain things that weren’t warn out in the fall are now worn out.” 

Andres added that the actual process of buying and selling bonds does not take place until the spring, though the initial budget is formulated in the fall. 

“The capital budget usually does change to some degree,” he said. “The fire chief thinks that we might be able to get a grant to buy the fire truck, but we have not received that grant. So we thought budgeting for a grant that we don’t have and may not get is like taking out a car loan and then not buying a car.”

Dotterweich said the city’s financial footing remains strong, maintaining an A-1 rating by Moody’s, that helped keep last year’s capital budget at a 2 percent interest rate. He expects that the loan approved this week would be paid off in 12 to 13 years. 

“We are in good shape just by the fact that Moody’s rated us the way they did,” he said. “They look at our debt, at our tax collection. They painted us in a pretty good light.” 

Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.