Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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February 10, 2013

Heritage District and tax, mulled

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — That is the amount of “special district assessment” in LHDC’s proposed budget, basically meaning the proposal is for downtown business/property owners to shoulder the Flight of Five operating tab.

That’s not an unreasonable thought, Mayor Michael Tucker suggested. Businesses in the Locks Heritage District are poised to benefit from the increased tourism that’s expected with Flight operation, “more than other taxpayers, certainly.

“But with that said, I know it’s tough out there for business,” he said. A special district tax “is an alternative. It’s my least favorite alternative, but it’s not the only alternative.”

Also under consideration, according to Tucker: O&M expenses could be written into the city’s general fund budget — and all property taxpayers hit up to help support Flight operations.

Or the city could increase its bed tax rate and earmark a portion of collections for the Locks Heritage District. Bed tax is 4 percent currently and it’s paid by people who rent rooms at hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfast establishments in the city.

Tax financing of some sort appears to be the only way to support Flight operation, Tucker acknowledged.

There are no grants out there for O&M, and it’s not feasible to charge admission for a look at the locks.

The Council will have to identify Flight O&M funding source(s) fairly soon. The Canal Corporation is putting restoration work out to bid in April with the aim of seeing construction started in June. Two locks should be fully restored and ready to operate by the end of 2014, according to heritage district committee chairman David Kinyon.

The committee’s sample budget for the Locks Heritage District Corporation shows expenses of $539,000 a year to maintain and promote public facilities including Lockport Harbor Marine Center, which the committee is pursuing grant funding to have built off West Genesee Street. 

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