Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

June 23, 2014

Step increases approved

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Niagara County legislators have directed Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz and other top officials to prepare a 2015 budget that includes step increases, as long as they don’t cause the county to exceed the state property tax cap.

The cap is expected to be about 3.75 percent. It’s important for the country to stay under the cap in 2015, because the state has added a new rule in which Albany will pay rebates to any property owner who sees a tax increase, as long as the taxing entity remains under the cap.

At Tuesday’s meeting, lawmakers voted unanimously in favor of the raises, which were stopped three years ago. For 2015, the raises are expected to cost about $1.3 million. 

“It’s long overdue and it’s the right thing to do,” said Legislator W. Keith McNall, R-Lockport, adding he was a 50-year union guy.

McNall credited Legislators Anthony J. Nemi, I-Lockport, and Kathryn Lance, R-Wheatfield, for pushing to restore the steps. McNall and Nemi sponsored the legislation.

Also Tuesday, county lawmakers approved a resolution opposing the expansion of federal control over “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act.

Legislator David E. Godfrey, R-Wilson, said the act is being expanded for a rule change proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. That change would subject all water with a connection to downstream navigable waters — including ditches, floodplains or natural and man-made ponds - to federal jurisdiction.

That means, if a big enough puddle appears in a backyard, the home owner would need to work with the EPA and the Corps before doing anything about it, Godfrey said.

“It is that absurd,” he said.

There is a fear the Clear Water Act expansion would harm local farms. The measure is opposed by the New York Farm Bureau, the National Association of Counties and the National Association of County Engineers.

In other action, county lawmakers:

• Awarded a $6.89 million contract to Accadia Site Contracting of Depew for the reconstruction of Lincoln Avenue between Beattie Avenue and Akron Road in Lockport.

• Awarded a contract to Concrete Applied Technologies, Corp. of Alden, a $1.12 million deal to repave Upper Mountain Road in the Town of Lockport, from the railroad tracks to Route 93.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.

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