LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Legislature adopted a 2013 budget Tuesday night that increased the amount to be collected in property taxes by 1.89 percent.
The budget passed by a 10-5 vote at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, with Republicans Kathryn L. Lance of Wheatfield and Cheree J. Copelin of Niagara Falls joining Niagara Falls Democrats Dennis F. Virtuoso, Owen T. Steed and Jason A. Zona in voting no.
Despite that, the Democrats took credit for reducing the tax levy increase from 3.7 percent, the figure in the tentative budget presented Nov. 15 by County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz. “We did our job. We had all the resolutions that reduced the budget. They didn’t have any,” said Virtuoso. “The minority caucus was able to deliver a 2 percent tax increase, which could have been zero.”
While voting down several of the Democrats’ proposed amendments, the Republican majority adopted the Democrats’ version of the single largest amendment to the budget, a $900,000 increase in the estimated sales tax revenue for next year. The GOP initially had proposed a $500,000 increase.
Friday, Glatz had criticized a further $900,000 increase in the sales tax estimate as “like playing Russian roulette.”
But Tuesday night, he noted that the Legislature dropped the notion of cutting the county self-insurance fund by $360,000. It went down only by $68,000, to counteract the need to restore some overtime in the Sheriff’s Office budget.
“The way I look at it is, it’s kind of a wash,” Glatz said.
The final budget of $321.8 million showed a spending increase of $5.3 million, or 1.67 percent. The tax levy was trimmed by $1.3 million as a result of the amendments. It would have taken $2.65 million in amendments to eliminate the tax increase.
Property tax rates for the individual municipalities are:
Cambria, $7.73 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, an increase of 9 cents from 2012; Hartland, $7.74, up 10 cents; Lewiston, $9.43, unchanged; City of Lockport, $7.74, up 9 cents; Town of Lockport, $7.75, up 9 cents; Newfane, $8.05, up 26 cents; Town of Niagara, $13.16, up 14 cents.
Also, Niagara Falls, $8.43, up 18 cents; North Tonawanda, $8.03, up 9 cents; Pendleton, $7.96, up 17 cents; Porter, $8.14, down 26 cents; Royalton, $7.89, up 2 cents; Somerset, $7.73, down $2.33; Wheatfield, $11.22, up 13 cents; Wilson, $8.40, up 18 cents.
The variations are caused by changes in each community’s assessment rolls. Somerset’s, in particular, was altered by its first townwide reassessment in many years, Real Property Services Director John E. Shoemaker said.