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City budget won't raise property taxes

The City Council has adopted a new budget for the city government beginning April 1 -- balanced without using Seneca casino revenues -- and which will not raise property taxes.

Mayor Jeffrey Pond and the Council were praised during a public hearing Wednesday on the $7.09 million budget by the lone speaker, resident Louise Hyson.

Hyson said she believes the city will live within its means and suggested the Salamanca School District do the same in upcoming budget deliberations.

Pond said none of the slot machine revenues received by the city from the Seneca Allegany Casino were used in the budget.

The city has a separate budget for that money and last received revenue for the second half of 2007. Revenues for last year are slightly increased, Pond said. The contract for the revenues is in effect until 2021.

The Seneca Nation reported this week that its slot machine revenues, which make up the largest portion of all gaming revenues, were down by 6.7 percent, to $111 million from $119 million for the first quarter of its fiscal year ending Dec. 31.

Pond noted that drop will not be felt by the city for several months as there is a delay with the state sending the revenues back to the city.

Budget revenues will be derived from a tax levy of $1.01 million calling for a tax rate of $52.41 per $1,000 of assessment, the same rate as last year.

Other revenues include $3.8 million in state aid, $120,000 in federal aid, $525,000 in sales taxes and $200,000 from surplus. That will still leave the city a surplus of $2.1 million.

Pond said, "I'm very happy we didn't have to raise taxes and the department heads were helpful in holding the lines on their budgets."

The Council often opts to borrow outside the budget for equipment and other projects. This year the city will seek partial bonding for $750,000 to update the court facilities. Casino revenues will partially fund the updates. Included will be increased security, moving the courtroom/council chambers to an area in the rear of the Municipal Building, formerly occupied by a volunteer fire department.

Pond said the work would be completed by October.

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