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Friday night NT budget hearing draws crowd, questions regarding optimistic revenue projections

Friday night NT budget hearing draws crowd, questions regarding optimistic revenue projections

by Joseph KisselNovember 2, 2019

North Tonawanda’s late budget brought about an unusual Friday night budget hearing ahead of its planned adoption at Monday’s special common council session.

Due to concerns about how effectively the council can implement changes to the budget over the weekend, council president Eric Zadzilka said there was a possibility adoption would take place later since the budget can be approved as as late as Nov. 15.

As in previous meetings, several speakers drew attention to almost $1 million in projected revenues that seemed less than a sure thing.

One of the avenues for increased revenues involves going after three years of delinquent back taxes. Historically, a single year of back taxes is sought in collections. Councilman Austin Tylec pointed out if this “getting more aggressive” scheme works, the city will not have delinquent taxes to draw on for the next two years.

Tylec also questioned a $550,000 increase in sewer revenues compared with the previous year although there isn’t an increase in the sewer rate.

Zadzilka said the projections are based on anticipated residential and business growth, but others were dubious that projects not even announced yet — let alone under construction — could be in operation soon enough to add to sewer revenues.

Also, mentioned during the hearing were pleas to make NT’s Dog Control Officer Rick Salisbury (above) a full-time employee. Throughout the year, tales of Salisbury’s dedication to the job and his above-and-beyond work ethic have filtered repeatedly into the common council chambers.

“This is something we are going to consider moving forward into the budget,” Zadzilka said.

Other questions raised include how much the city’s old infrastructure, which includes wooden pipes in some parts of the city, can handle expansion. 

Another resident said she submitted budget questions through the city’s website but hadn’t heard anything in return.

Tylec asked the city clerk if he could compile a complete list of the questions — with answers — by the end of next week.

“Some people have great ideas,” said Zadzilka. “They see what works and are just as much a resource as a department head.”

About The Author
Joseph Kissel
Joseph Kissel is a journalist, editor and photographer. He is also the Vice President of the New York Coalition for Open Government, a non-partisan, non-profit group that advocates for transparency and the public's right to freedom of information.