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Operating surplus for year expected

Supervisor Marc R. Smith told the Town Board on Wednesday that he expects the town to show an operating surplus for 2011.

One of the main reasons, according to Councilman Paul W. Siejak, is that sales tax receipts for the first 11 months of the year were running $371,000 ahead of the 2010 figures.

For towns, sales tax revenue doesn't depend on the money spent within their boundaries. All the sales tax collected within Niagara County is totaled in Albany, and the state sends the local share to the county treasurer.

The county keeps one-quarter of that, reserved for its Medicaid expenses. It also keeps 47 percent of the remaining local share and divides up the remaining 53 percent among the towns and cities based on their populations.

"The census had something to do with [the increase]," Siejak said.

The Town of Lockport receives a larger share than it did in 2010 because the census figures that were released early this year gave the town a larger proportion of the county's population.

The town's population rose from 19,655 to 20,529 in the past decade, entitling it to 4.87 percent of the total county sales tax collection, instead of the 4.5 percent it received in the previous 10 years.

In other matters, the board unanimously approved a $20,000 loan to the town Industrial Development Agency for use in marketing efforts.

Smith said that although it was a companion move to the town's sale of the former Town Hall site on Ruhlman Road to the IDA, the agency doesn't have to use the loan exclusively in promoting that location.

The Town Board approved the $90,000 sale of the now-vacant lot to the IDA two weeks ago.

The five-year loan is to be repaid with 1.5 percent interest. The IDA is paying for the lot purchase over nine years, with the same interest rate.