NORTH TONAWANDA – The Common Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to borrow $1.9 million for new recycling totes, a dump truck, police cars, road and sidewalk repairs, and other capital improvements approved in last year’s budget.
Projects slated for the bond were reviewed and trimmed last month from an original bond proposal of about $2.3 million.
The Council decided against including items such as a new fire truck and an equipment improvement to the wastewater treatment system that would have yielded a relatively modest return in efficiency, said Council President Richard Andres.
“We decided the savings weren’t great enough. It would take 20 years to pay for it,” he said of the machine for processing waste.
Keeping debt to a minimum is an important alternative goal, he said. “The city has a low debt load for a city of our size. Very low. We’re proud of that as a Council,” he said. “We’re hoping to keep that going.”
Also at the meeting, this year’s local recipients of the annual $50,000 in East Hill Foundation grants were announced:
• $38,000 to Twin Cities Community Outreach, home to the food pantry, to go toward a new roof.
• $12,000 to the YWCA for kitchen equipment.
The foundation, which has $20 million in assets, made an agreement with the city to donate $50,000 to local charities each year as part of a deal made in advance of its move to the city.
The nonprofit created by the family of Wilson Greatbatch, the man famous for inventing the implantable pacemaker, moved to North Tonawanda from Williamsville this year. Its new headquarters was built from an expanded and converted boat garage along the Niagara River. The offices on Island Street, off River Road, are in a building that was once used by Greatbatch’s son, Warren, to repair and restore antique boats and motors. The land, which includes docks and a small lighthouse and home, was taken off the tax rolls so that the foundation could use it for its nonprofit work.
The $50,000 in annual grants to local nonprofits and another smaller payment to the city roughly equal the $63,000 the city lost in property tax revenue with the new nonprofit status of the Island Street address.
“They’ve reached their minimum. If they go beyond that, great,” Andres said of this year’s donations. “It shows that the agreement works for the citizens of North Tonawanda. Hopefully, next year, we’ll see more money.”