The tentative 2022 city budget threatens to raise the property tax rate by 2% — up to $19.05 per $1,000 assessment of property — while at the same time overall city spending appears to be going in the opposite direction.
Finance Director Tim Russo said the numbers are deceiving.
The bottom line of Mayor Michelle Roman’s recommended 2022 budget, $26.4 million, is smaller than the total of the 2021 amended budget, $26.56 million, but this year’s budget reflects one-time awards from Uncle Sam and New York State. Russo said the city received $1 million of Covid relief through the American Rescue Plan Act, as well as $500,000 in previously withheld state aid.
“The current year’s spending is inflated with one-time revenues, such as the restoration of state aid and ARPA funds, that aren’t included next year,” Russo said. “That explains why, at first glance, you might see our total spending is declining.”
The tentative 2022 budget shows the city plans to hire four additional firefighters, in keeping with the outcome of arbitration between the city and the firefighters union.
Also, Highway Superintendent Mike Hoffman will be returned to full-time status and one more senior account clerk will be hired.
Russo also noted that fees for water and sewer service will be rising by 3%.
“Our chemicals (for water treatment) are going up,” Russo said. “Insurance goes up every year and we also have our cost of living adjustments for all employees.”
Roman said she’s proud of the “format of the new budget. It’s more transparent for people to see where their money is going. It’s even user friendly, it has descriptions. You don’t have to be an accountant to figure it out.”
A copy of the tentative budget can be found at https://lockportny.gov/departments/finance-department/.