NORTH TONAWANDA — The North Tonawanda Common Council unanimously adopted a 2013 budget Tuesday with just one last-minute amendment.
The council appropriated $35,355,401 for next year’s general fund that will leave residents with zero property tax increases, while also holding the line on water rates at $3 per 1,000 gallons and sewer rates at $4.50 per 1,000 gallons.
Among the bulk of those appropriations, 34 percent will go to city employees benefits, 27 percent for public safety and 11 percent for general government support. Nearly $16 million of the total budget will come from local property taxes.
The budget will rise $703,556 over 2012, with the increase covered by the city’s general fund balance, which now stands a $1.3 million. The 2013 capital improvement budget is set at $3,209,925.
Overall, it was a largely uneventful budgetary process among the Republican-controlled council, with most members generating a consensus on how the city’s fiscal future should be mapped out.
After bucking the mayor’s plan to hire two new firefighters during an informal poll held in October, the council reversed its decision Tuesday to send one of the employees to the police department, agreeing to follow Mayor Rob Ortt’s blueprint.
However, while the status quo will remain, council President Rich Andres said the city will budget for an additional police department member by early summer, when an officer-to-be graduates from the academy.
The police department has accrued roughly $200,000 in overtime costs this year, though $25,000 will be set aside for the new hire’s salary and benefits to finish out 2013.
“It was a compromise we brokered as a way to sort of mend fences,” Andres said.
Few other contentious moments took place among council members over the budget, while only two residents were on hand Thursday for a public hearing — an about-face from last year’s budget scenario when union members fiercely objected the police dispatch consolidation with the Niagara County.