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Lockport to weigh borrowing program; Treasurer proposes seeking $7 million

City Treasurer Michael E. White recommended a nearly $7 million program of borrowing to the Common Council last week and gave the aldermen two weeks to decide how much of it they want to carry out.

"The city hasn't borrowed in the last four years. A lot of needs have reared their ugly heads since then," White said. "I hate to borrow money, I really do, but with our cash flow situation, we need to do it."

With interest rates at historic lows and the city's credit rating at historic highs -- A2 from Moody's Investors Service, A-minus from Standard and Poor's -- the treasurer, whose City Hall nickname is "Dr. No," says now is the time to pull the trigger.

Some of the expenditures in the package already have been made and need to be paid off. Examples include the city's new fire truck, about half of which was paid for by a federal grant. But $240,000 of the cost is the city's responsibility.

White also said the city needs to borrow $860,000 to pay for the 17,000 garbage and recycling totes to be distributed throughout Lockport next month.

The city also faces a $440,000 tab for the repair of a sinkhole that kept South Transit Street closed for three weeks this spring. The project involved the replacement of sewer and water mains.

A building to house emergency generators, installed at the water filtration plant in 2008 and 2009, also needs to be paid off, to the tune of $465,000.

Mayor Michael W. Tucker held out hope the city might obtain some emergency reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the sinkhole.

Council President Richelle J. Pasceri said the city expects to receive a state grant sometime in the next couple of years to cover some of the cost of the totes.

New projects include nearly $4 million for new roofs and wall repairs at City Hall, the water and wastewater plants and the salt barn at the city garage.

There is an assortment of equipment on the list, including a 10-ton paving roller for $120,000, two 10-ton dump trucks for $150,000 and various salt spreaders and smaller vehicles.

The ramp leading from Niagara Street to the Fire Department needs repaving, Tucker said.

City Clerk and Budget Director Richard P. Mullaney suggested borrowing $250,000 to upgrade city parks. He reminded the Council that resident Russell Bruning has been speaking at the past few meetings to demand maintenance at Outwater Park, including clearing brush from the overlook on the Niagara Escarpment and removal of a disused fountain and bocce courts.

Fire Chief Thomas J. Passuite urged the Council to buy him a new city car. He said his current car is 13 years old and is falling apart.

White said likely interest rates would be 1.1 percent to 1.3 percent for a short-term bond anticipation note; 2.15 percent to 2.35 percent for a tax-exempt bond; and 3.6 percent to 3.8 percent for a taxable bond.