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November 21, 2013

City budget OK'd as is

LOCKPORT —

The Common Council on Wednesday adopted a spending plan for 2014 that assumes elimination of 16 city jobs.
The final version of the $23.7 million general fund budget is balanced with a 34-cent or 2.3 percent increase in the city tax rate, to $15.07 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
A portion of the tax rate increase can be attributed to the year-over-year $4 million loss in taxable property value citywide; the 2013-14 assessment roll has total taxable value down to $707.7 million.
The tax levy, $10.6 million, is 1.7 percent higher than the 2013 levy. The budget thus stayed below the so-called state tax cap and, while job cuts were required, essential services for residents are funded, Council President Anne McCaffrey said.
“The Council is committed to making sure that this budget is implemented within its framework. We will work diligently to monitor it," she said.
The budget anticipates the elimination of four police officer posts, eight firefighter posts and one post each from the building inspection, youth, highway and city clerk's departments.
The cuts are not set in stone, however, Mayor Michael Tucker has said. If the Council through its hired negotiator can strike an unspecified cost-cutting deal with the police officers' union, before the end of the year, up to all four targeted police posts could be restored.
Theoretically, some firefighting positions could be salvaged as well, if Lockport Professional Firefighters Association agrees to some cost-cutting measures and/or some eligible employees decide to retire by Jan. 1, he said this week.
The Council also approved the 2014 water, sewer and refuse fund budgets. The sewer fund budget, $4.4 million, shows a $171,000 year-over-year increase in projected appropriations. The bottom lines of the $4 million water fund budget, and the $1.26 million refuse fund budget, are virtually unchanged from this year. Water, sewer and refuse user fees are to remain the same.

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