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Share of tax used to restore groups' aid

An increase in sales tax revenues allowed the Town Board Monday to reinstate funding to two groups that were cut out of the budget late last year.

The board voted unanimously to transfer $5,000 each from the contingency contractual account to the Niagara Military Affairs Council and the Niagara Community Action Program. Town contributions to both were eliminated from the 2011 budget in November as officials scrambled to avoid layoffs and tax hikes.

Both NiMac and NiaCAP have received funding from the town over the years to support programs. NiaCAP provides grants to low-income residents for weatherization work and home improvements. NiMac is a local lobbying effort that works to support growth, activities and government investment at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe spoke highly of both groups and noted that the air base is the largest employer in Wheatfield.

The funding is coming from the $135,000 the town received in sales tax revenues for the first two months of the year, Cliffe said. Town officials anticipate sales tax to jump by about $300,000 this year because of increased population numbers in the last U.S. census. The total amount budgeted is $3.35 million.

"In two months, we received $135,000 so we should easily have that [$300,000]," Cliffe said.

The majority of the money will be used to pay down the town's debt service.

In another financial matter, the board approved an audit of all town departments that collect money except for the Town Clerk's Office.

Departments such as Recreation, Town Court and Senior Citizens will be audited by Town Budget Director Ed Mongold, who will make recommendations to the board as necessary, Cliffe said. The Clerk's Office was audited last year by Mongold.

The board also voted to purchase a wheel loader for the Highway Department for $135,351. Highway Superintendent Art Kroening said that because the purchase is being done through the state bid list, the town is saving about $15,000. The old loader will be kept as a backup.

e-mail: niagaranews@buffnews.com

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