NORTH TONAWANDA – For the second year in a row, Mayor Robert Ortt presented a budget to the Common Council that has no tax increase.
The spending plan also includes staff cuts and money for two new firefighters, as well as $825,000 in road and sidewalk repairs.
It is an approach, Ortt said, in keeping with his obligation to the city’s large population of senior citizens and blue-collar workers.
“We don’t have millionaires in North Tonawanda,” he said Tuesday, before allowing that if there were some, they were in the minority in this city where $50,000-a-year incomes are more common. “The average North Tonawanda resident, I try to keep them in mind.”
The $35.5 million budget, given to the Common Council at its meeting Tuesday, has the same proposed tax rate of $13.16 per $1,000 of assessed home value as last year’s $34.65 million budget.
Early proposals from department heads would have added an extra $5 million, said Ortt, who pared down requests and found savings:
•?Eleven full-time employees accepted retirement incentives this summer. Money to replace six was included in the new budget to be voted on next month.
•?Savings at the Water and Sewer departments include a restructuring of the superintendent’s work to focus on plant management and lower the pay scale, to closer to $70,000. The last person to hold the job earned $140,000 in salary and benefits and had administrative-billing oversight duties, which have been transferred to the Treasurer’s Office. For the last year and a half or so, the Lockport superintendent managed North Tonwanda’s water systems, an arrangement that ended over the summer.
“It looks like a good and fair budget,” said Alderwoman Nancy Donovan after the meeting as she stood outside City Hall holding a budget binder.
She spoke with Council President Richard Andres and Alderman Eric Zadzilka about going home to read through it in preparation for public hearings and reviews in the weeks ahead.
Also at the meeting, the Council voted to let work begin on a culvert system planned by City Engineer Dale Marshall and intended to relieve flooding in the Witmer Road neighborhood.
“We’ve worked a long, long time getting this through,” said Alderman Russell Rizzo, who said he has been advocating for a solution since 2000. “Dale, thank you very much.”