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AID OUTLOOK IS MIXED AS MAYOR SEEKS TO COVER COSTS

The City of Tonawanda recently received mixed news from the state and federal governments on possible revenue sources, but Mayor Jack Gallagher said he will not be satisfied until it is all good for the city.

Gallagher learned two weeks ago that Gov. George E. Pataki kept a 12.75 percent aid increase for every city in the 2005-06 budget, meaning that Tonawanda will receive an additional $180,000 in revenue this year.

Gallagher said the aid will be used toward covering large increases to health care and retirement costs in an attempt to keep taxes from rising.

However, the city is also facing a shortfall in street repair expenses.

Gallagher said the city usually receives somewhere between $90,000 and $180,000 a year from the Community Development Block Grant program funded through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

While the program is normally reserved for low-income areas and distributed by Erie County, President Bush has proposed cutting funding and consolidating the program along with 17 others by moving it to the Department of Commerce.

"If the president does rethink it, it could impact the way we approach our infrastructure program," Gallagher said.

With the block grant program facing a cut of about $1.42 billion, Gallagher sent a letter to Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, looking for help.

Slaughter answered, replying in a letter that she opposes the president's proposal and will continue to seek more funding for the program.

In years past, Tonawanda has used the grant money to rehabilitate some of its streets.

Work on Schuler Avenue and Loretta Street was recently completed, and Gallagher hoped to rehabilitate James Street this year with money from the block grant.

Gallagher also has been in contact with State Sen. Mary Lou Rath, R-Williamsville, to seek grants for other projects within the city, including cameras for the sewers and a new handicapped-accessible entrance for City Hall.

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