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Lockport Town Board completes spending plan that reduces taxes

With a few more cuts, the Town Board finished work on the town's 2010 budget Wednesday, although a final vote won't come until November.

The budget will reduce the tax bill on a $100,000 home by $1.69, Budget Director Robert Lipp said.

But as the $14.1 million spending plan was completed, there were voices on the board thinking about future changes, such as new services and more employees.

Supervisor Marc R. Smith said the town will face challenges in the areas of code enforcement and parks management, as well as "pointed discussions" with outside agencies about the contributions they receive from the town.

Councilman Paul H. Pettit suggested hiring a part-time code enforcement officer, but Smith said no, although he acknowledged a growing problem.

Pettit said, "There's more and more properties people are walking away from." He cited two vacant houses where it was discovered that water was running, one because of broken pipes and the other because of a malfunctioning dishwasher.

"They leave their trash, they don't cut their lawn," Smith said. "It's certainly an issue we need to address. It's a problem around the town. . . . We probably could use [the position], but given the economy, I'm unwilling to add new positions."

The board reduced the allocation for parks projects from $130,000 to $100,000. Eighty percent of that is earmarked for construction of new bathrooms at Day Road Park, but it was unclear whether that project will actually occur.

"We won't be able to construct those bathrooms without a grant," Smith said. "We're not 100 percent committed to that project."

Pettit said portable toilets work just fine, even though the new soccer fields at Day Road are expected to draw large youth soccer tournaments. He said tournaments in Amherst and Wilson use portable toilets.

Smith said, "I certainly have been against the bathrooms, but the time has come when our facility has outgrown porta potties."

Councilwoman Cheryl A. Antkowiak agreed. "We need to grow as a community," she said. "You want to have a park? Do it right."

She said Lockport needs better amenities if it expects the high-tech workers at the new Yahoo! data center to live here as well as work here.

Smith said there is a long-term plan to add a pavilion and storage building to the park later on. "We have a decent plan to keep the price down," he said.

Pettit said the town needs a clear vision of what it wants the park to be. He warned that a bathroom building would require new staff to maintain it. "Are we going to have a Taj Mahal with all these little buildings?" he asked.

There was some griping about contributing $45,600 to the Dale Association and $15,000 to the Lockport Public Library. The City of Lockport doesn't pay a penny to either organization.

Councilman Paul W. Siejak accused the city of "piggybacking" on the town's efforts and suggested sending the library a letter warning it might be cut in the future. Antkowiak blocked that notion.

Councilman Mark C. Crocker said, "It's disappointing the city doesn't contribute, but I don't think we can value our citizens based on what the city does."

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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