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Dunkirk budget has no tax increase, but water rates will rise

DUNKIRK – Mayor A.J. Dolce on Tuesday discussed his 2015 budget proposal during a regular meeting of the City Council.

The mayor, who unveiled the plan during a news conference last week, said there would be no tax increase in his proposal.

“Be assured we will continue to research cost-cutting measures and expand our efforts regionally with the goal of stabilizing our tax and rate base moving forward, while ensuring that all essential capital projects are prioritized and completed,” he said.

However, water rates will rise. The mayor said the increase would be about $4 per month for city residents and about $7 monthly for residents outside the city. He said the rate increase is needed to help pay for financing for upgrades at the water treatment plant that were mandated by both the state and county Health Department.

“The water rate increase still has to be approved by Council,” said Councilman Michael Michalsk, who holds out hope that the city gets more water customers in the future to help absorb the costs.

“Adding water users to our customer base in 2015 is something we have to take very seriously,” said Councilman William Rivera. 

Dolce confirmed that he is still talking to other community leaders about a regional water district, and that a meeting of the new North Chautauqua Water District Agency board of directors is planned for Oct. 30.

Dolce said he anticipates that other revenue will be relatively stable in 2015. 

Council members, who have begun their review of the budget, are required to adopt a final budget in December. The budget can be viewed online on the city’s website. A public hearing on the plan will be held beginning at 5 p.m. on Nov. 4. in City Hall.

In other business:

• Dolce urged residents to attend the NRG public hearings scheduled for 3 and 7 p.m. Thursday in the Fredonia Opera House.

• A contract to demolish the former water storage tank on Willowbrook Avenue was approved and awarded to Wargo Enterprises of Akron. The cost of the demolition and removal of the old tank is $54,480. The tank has been replaced as part of the Health Department consent order issued to the city. Gugino said that seven companies submitted bids and Wargo’s was the lowest. 

• The mayor said that even though SUNY Fredonia was not successful in obtaining a grant to build a research center on the city’s harborfront, he believes the project has potential. He said other funding opportunities will researched to fund a $10 million building for the college.

• Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has issued a proclamation recognizing Dunkirk as a community that celebrates its Hispanic community.

• City Planning Director Steve Neratko said STEL Inc. of Dunkirk is proposing a residential development for moderate-income working families on Route 60 near Second Street in Dunkirk. Further information is likely to be submitted to the Council in November, he added.