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North Tonawanda Common Council President Catherine G. Schwandt issued a budget message Friday explaining a preliminary city budget of $25,315,390, with a property tax levy increase of $191,450.

The projected property tax rate for 2001 is $14.48 per $1,000 of assessed value, resulting in a 29-cent-per-$1,000, or 2 percent, increase over last year's rate.

A public hearing on the preliminary budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday in Common Council chambers of City Hall.

Schwandt said the Council cut city department appropriation requests that originally totaled $4,089,225.

She said elimination of the two-tier homestead/nonhomestead property classification provides a better environment to retain businesses and encourage new business to locate in the city.

Schwandt listed a series of business expansions and developments during the past year.

"Our downtown and Erie Canal front have been revitalized with the improvements at Gateway Park and a canalway trail to Payne Avenue, where a restaurant/marina is being constructed," she said.

"The construction of a natural gas pipeline to Tonawanda Island has resulted in an expansion at Taylor Devices and provides the foundation for future expansions and development on the island."

The Council president listed services provided by the city. "Through our efforts, our firefighters will now be qualified as advanced medical technicians," she said.

"Last year the Council initiated civilian radio dispatching with the Police Department," she said. "This year the Council is working cooperatively with the Police and Fire departments to explore the possibility of consolidating radio dispatch operations at the city's emergency operation center and using civilians to perform all dispatch services.

"Because the inequities in property assessment are a concern, we initiated a property revaluation program in the city starting in 2000 which will be completed this year."

Schwandt noted that the preliminary budget freezes the current sewer rate at $3.10 per 1,000 gallons of water consumption. The sewer fund budget of $4,290,255 represents an increase of $108,983 over last year's level.

In the water fund, the emphasis on controlling spending resulted in budget appropriations of $2,630,182, a decrease of $2,806 from last year's budget.

"Based on our current revenue stream, we will continue to honor last year's 10-cent rate reduction and have frozen the current sewer rate of $2.20 per 1,000 gallons," she said.

"We have also made a proposal to sell water on a wholesale basis to the City of Tonawanda. If successful, this initiative would reduce water rates further."

The 2001 capital improvement budget of $4,829,000 focuses on providing $3,176,000 for remediation of the former Roblin Steel plant site.

"We anticipate that the state will reimburse us 75 to 90 percent of the cost. We will also be spending $1,016,000 to reconstruct Robinson Street, $250,000 on other street resurfacing, $115,000 on upgrading the city's telephone system and $272,000 for equipment for public works and the city golf course," she said.

Copies of the preliminary budget are available at the city clerk's office, the North Tonawanda Public Library and the Police Department.

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