Share this article

print logo

City adopts austerity spending plan

The City Council has adopted a new budget of $7.2 million based on $3.5 million in "anticipated emergency state aid," yet officials have no guarantee when it will be funded.

Work on a new budget effective Friday was delayed several weeks by Mayor Jeff Pond and the Council as they held discussions with state officials seeking to find revenues to balance a new budget.

The city came up short in September, when the flow of casino slot machine revenue was stopped by the Seneca Nation of Indians because of a dispute with the state, which funnels a portion back to the host casino cities of Salamanca, Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

That crisis led to 49 layoffs and a cutback of services in each city department.

The Senecas are in arrears several years with annual casino revenues, which are slated to continue through 2021.

Pond said the new budget is an austerity spending plan and allows the city to provide necessary daily operations.

The new budget calls for a tax levy of $990,000, a 2 percent increase from last year and a tax rate of $55.14 per $1,000 of assessment, up from $54.07. The two previous years the rate was held at $52.41.

Examples of the bare-bones budget include new budget totals of $278,211 for the library, down from $406,386; public safety reduced to $311,261 from $382,659; public works, down to $1.3 million, from $2.2 million; and elimination of the Economic Development and Planning departments, for a reduction of $92,219.

Included in the budget total of $7.2 million is $984,000 from a revenue anticipation note the city needed two years ago. Unable to repay the amount when it came due last year the note was extended for the city and has been added to the new budget.

With three councilmen present, the budget was approved. Aldermen William Ferguson and Michael Smith were absent.

During a brief public hearing, attended by only a few residents, Robert Thompson wanted to know what will happed if the state isn't forthcoming with the anticipated revenues.

Pond answered, "We have no backup plan and will address that if it happens."

Pond is confident that once the state adopts a new budget, its leaders will turn their attention to Salamanca's fiscal problems. "We have reached out to every level at the state and continue to hold daily talks with our state representatives," Pond assured the residents.

There are no comments - be the first to comment