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LOCKPORT REJECTS CUTTING TAX RATE, OPTS FOR FREEZE

Rejecting a last-minute pitch for a tax cut, the Lockport Common Council adopted a 1998 budget Wednesday that freezes the property tax rate.

The budget vote was 6-2 in favor, although after the meeting, Alderman Brian J. Keleher, D-5th Ward, who voted yes, said he meant to vote no, but failed to do because of "confusion" and "miscommunication with another alderman in a Democratic caucus."

Keleher was one of two aldermen who expressed support in a premeeting work session for a tax cut proposed by Alderwoman Cyd L. Bennett, R-6th Ward, who is running for mayor on three minor-party lines.

The two votes against the budget came from Miss Bennett and Alderman Charles J. Montedoro, D-1st Ward.

The total budget of $22,011,601 represents an increase of $476,769 from this year. The city will apply $526,800 from the surplus.

The Council had agreed Tuesday on a budget that would leave the tax rate at $12.21 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. However, Miss Bennett presented her colleagues with a proposal to spend more of the surplus to reduce taxes.

Using an estimate obtained from City Clerk and Budget Director Richard P. Mullaney of $1,338,000 for the city's surplus, Miss Bennett said that reducing the surplus to $1,100,580, or 5 percent of the budget, would drop taxes 3.95 percent.

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