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2012-13 budget with 2 percent property tax hike passed

There were no speakers at a public hearing Wednesday before the City Council, which then adopted a budget for 2012-13 with a 2 percent property tax increase.

The spending plan requires assistance from the state in the form of an advance loan of $2.5 million to balance a $6.4 million budget.

The loan -- a repeat from last year -- will come from money yet to be paid by the Seneca Nation of Indians to the state from shared slot machine revenues from Seneca casinos. Host communities such as Salamanca, Buffalo and Niagara Falls each is supposed to receive a percentage of the money, but the Senecas have withheld it for several years due to a dispute with the state.

The new budget calls for a $1 million tax levy toward which property owners will pay $56.26 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, up from $55.14.

Only 35 percent of the city's residents pay property taxes, according to city officials. Most of the city lies on the Allegany Territory of the Senecas, where tribal members are exempt from property taxes.

Mayor Jeff Pond said the city will continue to provide minimal services to residents in the new budget. As a result of not receiving shared Seneca money, the city had to lay off 49 workers in September 2010.

The budget provides 3.5 percent wage increases for union workers and 2 percent hikes for non-union workers who did not receive an increase last year.

Still being negotiated are contracts for police and public works employees, who are expected to get 2 percent wage increases, Pond said.

The mayor and City Council will not get raises. Pond earns $12,500, and the five aldermen each receives $7,500. The amounts have not changed in five years. The terms of all six are up Dec. 31.

The budget also will mean changes in operating hours for the Clerk, Comptroller and Assessor's offices. Effective April 1, they will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Council also approved a $30 civil fee for fingerprinting; authorized the purchase of a Chevrolet Impala for a police patrol car; and approved a $18,862 justice grant to be used to purchase a mobile license plate recognition reader. The city's cost will be $199. It will be installed on the next new patrol car placed into service.

Pond appointed John Sampson and reappointed Thomas Sharbaugh and Michael Lonto as directors on the Youth Board through Feb. 28, 2017.