LOCKPORT – Mayor Michael W. Tucker said Thursday that he doesn’t support a proposal to impose a special property tax to pay for operations and maintenance of the restored 19th century Erie Canal locks.
David R. Kinyon, chairman of Lockport Locks Heritage District Corp., proposed to the Common Council on Wednesday the creation of a business improvement district along the canal, with a tax levy attached. He estimates that the city will need $100,000 a year to operate the Flight of Five, as the original locks are known.
A project to return two of the five locks to working order is moving on an accelerated timetable. Tucker said the state Canal Corp. will invite bids in April and award a contract in May, with the intention of seeing construction start in June.
The restored locks are supposed to open next year, and with the city having committed to paying the cost of the project, financial arrangements have to be settled soon.
Tucker said that within 30 days, he will ask the Council to approve a $370,000 bond issue. The borrowing would cover the city’s matching share of $2.2 million in federal grants promised nearly a decade ago for the construction project.
Kinyon, who also is the Town of Lockport’s economic-development director, proposed the special levy on all properties in the downtown business district and along both banks of the canal, roughly between the Adam Street and Stevens Street bridges.
“Just off the top of my head, it’s probably not an option we would favor,” Tucker said. “Certainly the businesses have enough problems. Certainly the homeowners have enough problems.”
He acknowledged the logic of Kinyon’s theory that downtown and canalside businesses that would be affected by the suggested tax also have the most to gain from the hoped-for tourist crowds the Flight of Five is supposed to attract.