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Rise in sales tax revenue reinvigorates 2 groups

An increase in sales tax revenue has allowed the Town Board to reinstate funding Monday to two groups that were cut from 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, or NIMAC, and the Niagara Community Action Program, or NiaCAP. Town contributions to both were eliminated from the 2011 budget in November as officials scrambled to avoid layoffs and tax increases.

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 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, noting that the air base is the town's top employer.

The funding is coming from the $135,000 the town received in sales tax revenue for the first two months of the year, he said. Town officials expect sales tax revenue to jump by about $300,000 this year because of an increased town population, as noted in the recent 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 noted.

Most of the revenue would be used to pay down the town's debt service, as directed by a board resolution passed during the budget process.

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 the senior citizens group will be audited by town Budget Director Edward D. Mongold, who will make recommendations to the board, Cliffe said. Mongold audited the Town Clerk's Office last year.

Though no problems were identified, Cliffe emphasized that the audit is a part of the board's job to monitor financial activity within the town.

"I don't know if there are any issues," Cliffe said, "but it is the board's responsibility to oversee those departments that handle money."

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

e-mail: niagarnews@buffnews.com

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