With national unemployment at a 17-year high, the City of Tonawanda Common Council unanimously approved a resolution committing the city to using and purchasing American-made products and services to help the struggling economy.
Alderman Gary Waterhouse, the union president of steelworkers employed at the Tonawanda Washington Mills plant, brought the resolution to the table. He was motivated to act because his "industry was hurt really bad."
City funds are] taxpayer money," Waterhouse said. "If we don't [use it] to create jobs, there's not going to be anybody able to pay these taxes. [I want to] buy American products to keep Americans working."
The resolution advises city leaders that any economic recovery plan should spend taxpayer dollars on materials, goods and services for projects from companies that are produced in the United States whenever possible.
"I live and breathe this," Waterhouse said of his own personal commitment. "I've taught my kids to buy American, whether it's a car or tennis balls."
In other action, the Council directed the city's attorney and treasurer to begin foreclosure proceedings for any city property delinquent on city, school or county taxes up to Sept. 1, 2007. Approximately 100 properties are affected by the move and owe anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $15,000 in back taxes, according to City Treasurer Joseph Hogenkamp.
The foreclosure process generally takes a year, as the city works to collect from delinquent taxpayers. Hogenkamp said the list is narrowed down to under 10 properties, and those are put up for public auction.
During the meeting, one resident complained about the city's inability to receive tax payments via credit card. Hogenkamp said they are working to implement credit card payments in the future.