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BUDGET PLAN REPLETE WITH UPS, DOWNS IN TAX RATES

County property-tax rates would be cut in all three cities but would go up in 10 of the 12 towns, including a nearly 9 percent increase in the Town of Lockport, if the Niagara County Legislature adopts the 1999 budget as proposed.

A public hearing on the main spending plan of $199,789,390 is set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the courthouse. It will be preceded by hearings on the Water District assessment roll at 7 p.m., the Sewer District assessment roll at 7:10, and the Refuse Disposal District roll at 7:20.

On Dec. 15, the Legislature will make final amendments and vote on the budget proposal.

Spending in the proposed budget would go up by $4,290,032, or 2.19 percent, from the current year's version.

The tax rate would fall by 3.25 percent in North Tonawanda, 4.29 percent in the City of Lockport, and 5.83 percent in Niagara Falls, under figures calculated by county Real Property Tax Services Director William F. Budde Jr.

However, Town of Lockport taxpayers would be in for a 8.93 percent tax-rate increase, by far the biggest in the county. The next-highest increase would be 5.01 percent in Hartland.

The towns of Niagara and Newfane are the only ones whose county tax rates would fall.

Although the countywide average tax rate remains the same as this year's, $7.82 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, nobody actually pays that rate.

The rates differ in each municipality based on the state-calculated equalization rates, derived from an analysis of how far their property assessments are from full market value.

During the budget deliberations of the Legislature's Finance Committee, Budde noted that the Town of Lockport has just completed a revaluation using 85 percent of market value, rather than the usual 100 percent, as the benchmark.

That kept assessment figures down in the town, but Budde noted during a budget session that "the equalization rate will adjust that."

It did so to the tune of a tax rate of $9.04 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, an increase of 74 cents, or 8.93 percent.

Other town tax rates in the tentative budget are:

Cambria, $7.27, up 25 cents, or 3.59 percent.

Hartland, $8.30, up 40 cents, or 5.01 percent.

Lewiston, $7.09, up 10 cents, or 1.49 percent.

Newfane, $6.97, down 11 cents, or 1.61 percent.

Niagara, $8.07, down 10 cents, or 1.21 percent.

Pendleton, $7.26, up 34 cents, or 4.91 percent.

Porter, $6.91, up 8 cents, or 1.12 percent.

Royalton, $7.26, up 20 cents, or 2.82 percent.

Somerset, $7.08, up 20 cents, or 2.88 percent.

Wheatfield, $7.58, up 27 cents, or 3.73 percent.

Wilson, $8.03, up 19 cents, or 2.36 percent.

The proposed city tax rates are:

Lockport, $8.35, down 37 cents, or 4.29 percent.

Niagara Falls, $7.14, down 44 cents, or 5.83 percent.

North Tonawanda, $10.40, down 35 cents, or 3.25 percent.

The total amount to be collected in taxes is $51,917,376, a decrease of $150,000 from the 1998 level.

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