Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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November 22, 2012

Zero-increase budget adopted

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The Common Council on Wednesday adopted a 2013 general city budget that projects reduced spending and no increase in the tax rate.

The $22.5 million spending plan was passed by a unanimous vote of the aldermen. The tax rate will remain $14.73 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Whether a new city post will be created, for a marketing and communications director, remained up in the air. After a Tuesday meeting with Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation executives, Mayor Michael Tucker said he’s leaning toward dropping plans for a city marketing office — so long as NTCC agrees to do a little “more” for Lockport.

The deal being worked, according to Tucker and NTCC Executive Director John Percy, is: NTCC will agree to fully fund the cost of operating the Lockport Trolley in 2013, if the city agrees to pursue a 1 percent increase in its bed tax, to 5 percent. The additional 1 percent would be earmarked for trolley operation in succeeding years.

Continuation of the city’s contract with NTCC doesn’t show up in the final city budget because there’ll be no deal unless the NTCC Board of Directors agrees to pick up the roughly $25,000 trolley tab next year. Board Chairman Frank Strangio, who accompanied Percy to the meeting with Tucker, agreed to take the proposal to the board at its Dec. 13 meeting.

If it works out, Tucker will abandon his proposal to fund a city marketing office by taking city bed tax receipts away from NTCC.

Currently the city is paying the countywide tourism promotion agency 75 percent of annual bed tax receipts in exchange for promotion of Lockport specifically; its payment to NTCC last year exceeded $85,000. Tucker has questioned whether the city is getting “bang for its buck” from the arrangement, and recently said he grew more disenchanted with the agency upon hearing it would not fund any portion of Lockport Trolley operating costs after this year.

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