BY JOE OLENICK
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal —
The Common Council won't be making any changes in the proposed 2014 budget before voting on it Wednesday.
But Council President Anne E. McCaffrey told council members to think about the spending plan over the weekend and tell her by Monday if they want to make any last-minute amendments.
“No one's happy with it, but we have to do it,” said Alderman Patrick W. Schrader, D-4th Ward.
The $23.7 million budget would raise the tax levy by 1.7 percent and increases the tax rate 34 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The levy stands at $10.6 million.
Under the budget, 16 layoffs would occur, including four police officers and eight firefighters. But, as he said at this week's public hearing, Mayor Michael W. Tucker said he believes layoffs can be avoided for police. The department and union has chipped in with a number of cost cutting measures.
“I think we can roll with this budget next week,” Tucker said. “And if we need to, we can change it.”
Also being cut is a building inspector, as well as a senior account clerk in the City Clerk's Office, a highway department worker and a position in the Youth and Recreation department.
Cutting a building inspector is something the city doesn't want to do, Tucker said, but it is the one area of city government that can take a hit. A few speakers at the budget hearing voiced opposition to the cut as well.
"Building Inspection is fully staffed. That’s the place that can sustain it the most,” Tucker said. “That’s the only place that is able to take it and not shut down a department.”
That would leave the office with two other full-time inspectors, a part-time code enforcer and a secretary.
John Schiavone of the Lumsden & McCormick, the accounting firm in charge of city budgeting, said officials need to keep a close eye on expenses. Monitoring spending is “critical,” he said.
"No unauthorized overtime," he advised.
Schiavone said there shouldn't be any revenue impact from the layoffs, a question raised at the hearing earlier this week.
“I don’t think removing policemen is going to result in less tickets," he said. "The same with building inspectors."
Alderman Kenneth M. Genewick, R-5th Ward, said the Finance Committee, of which he is the chairperson, should review expenditure reports every two weeks.
He also asked for department heads to report by Wednesday on the budget’s impact on their departments, but changed that request to the end of the year when Council members said there wasn’t enough time for such reports to be compiled.Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.