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Council to pass budget carrying minor tax reduction

The Common Council tonight will adopt a 2009 city budget with a minor tax reduction in the wake of an uneventful public hearing Tuesday.

City Clerk and Budget Director Richard P. Mullaney said the property tax rate will be $15.66 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, which is a reduction of 2 cents from this year's rate. For the owner of a home valued at $100,000, that rate saves him $2 on his tax bill.

"Other than that, most everything else remains the same. There's no change in the services we provide," Mullaney said.

Mayor Michael W. Tucker said, "I think it's a great budget."

He said the city needed to be careful because of the looming national financial crisis. "We don't know what the future holds for us," Tucker said.

The tax cut was not achieved by reducing spending. In fact, spending rises by almost $1.1 million, to $22.6 million.

Mullaney said the city managed to lower the tax rate by applying $750,000 in increased state aid and surplus funds to the budget.

The budget includes creation of a new deputy corporation counsel job that pays $18,000 to handle Housing Court prosecutions.

The hearing drew a "crowd" of three. One of them, Doralyn Marshall of the 4th Ward, called for the abolition of the Youth Bureau.

"If you're ever really looking to cut the budget, that's a department to get the ax," she said. "We have a youth program. It's called schools."

Tucker replied, "We have an obligation to provide youth services, and we're going to provide them."

The department's budget is $158,821, and it employs three people, including County Legislator Anthony Nemi as assistant director.

Diane Phelps, of Outwater Drive, complained about the $64,000 cost of the Molson Canal Concert Series. The city pays to rent the stage.

"Why should we pay for the concerts when they didn't in North Tonawanda?" Phelps asked.

"That's one of the areas of disagreement that caused them to come here," Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano answered.


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