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LAWMAKERS CUT SEWER AND WATER RATES

The North Tonawanda Common Council, meeting in an all-day budget session Saturday, reduced both the sewer and water rates property owners will pay this year.

Both rates were cut 10 cents per 1,000 gallons of water. The new sewer rate will be $3.10, and the new water rate, $2.20.

City Accountant David R. Jakubaszek said the current sewer and water rates have been in effect for the past four years.

The sewer fund budget was finalized at $4,181,272, or $211,371 less than last year. The water fund budget was cut $68,417 to $2,632,988.

Council members managed to hold general fund appropriations, the largest of four budgets that make up the total city budget, at $24,268,750, the same as 1999.

Jakubaszek said the tax levy -- the amount to be raised by taxes in 2000 -- is $930,225, or $35,508 less than last year.

However, because the previous Council abolished the two-tier (homestead and non-homestead) tax system, the tax rate for homeowners will be about 85 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation higher this year than last, while the business rate drops by $3.42 per $1,000, Jakubaszek said. Abolition of the two-tier tax shifted the property tax burden from business to homeowners.

Capital improvements approved Saturday totaled $2,973,000, or $718,000 more than last year.

Included in the capital budget are:

$100,000 in bonding authority for property reassessment. (A total of $131,000 is already set aside for that purpose from previous budgets.)

$120,000 for paying off past workers compensation claims, and withdrawal from the Niagara County Workers Compensation program.

$26,000 restored to the budget for a share in a University at Buffalo rowing center on the Erie Canal within the city, even though the Nor-Ton Red Jacket Club Inc., owner of canal-side property has rejected the development for its property.

The Council restored the following money on the recommendation of Mayor Mary C. Kabasakalian, who wanted to explore the possibility of locating the UB facility and possibly a rank Lloyd Wright-designed boat house on another, unspecified site:

$68,000 for restoration of a veterans memorial in Brauer Park adjacent to City Hall.

$200,000 -- Drake Drive storm sewer, curbing and road construction project.

$132,000 -- repair of the police department pistol range at headquarters.

A public hearing on the preliminary budget approved Saturday is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 8 in City Hall.

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