Tonawanda News

November 20, 2013

City of Tonawanda Common Council passes budget

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The City of Tonawanda Common Council unanimously passed the 2014 budget Tuesday night without making any changes to the mayor’s proposal.

Residents will incur a small 0.39 percent increase in the property tax rate, according to the budget. The tax rate will 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.

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.

At the budget hearing held earlier this year, 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.

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 at the hearing in October. “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.

Sewer rent revenue will increase from $1,945,161 in 2013 to $2,052,396. The increase is due to the city preparing for a series of infrastructure improvements that are mandated by the state.

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.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting:

• City Engineer Jason LaMonaco asked to hold a public hearing on the sewer problems in the First Ward. “There’s a misunderstanding of issues,” he said. “I’d like to talk about how the system operates and the sources of infiltration, because although we’ll take care of the infiltration on the city side, there’s still a whole private side.” The council approved his request.

• The council spoke with Larry Rubin, the attorney hired to represent the city in negotiations with Natale, in executive session. Natale is the set developer for the Little League Drive housing development, but some council members are against the current contract with the company.

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