Residents in the city of Dunkirk will likely be facing increases in taxes and water rates for the upcoming year. The increases were revealed in the 2013 proposed budget totaling $21,925,657 as presented by Mayor A.J. Dolce Friday morning.
The budget for 2013 is a "slight decrease overall" from last year's budget, Dolce said. The increase in taxes comes from uncontrollable costs - fire and police retirement, state retirement, social security and workers' compensation - increasing over last year's budget.
"Things are not good to say the least," Dolce said. "As you can see, the 2012 figures had four uncontrollable costs ... all of them increased, some more than others. ... (There was) nothing we could do about them."
OBSERVER Photo by Samantha McDonnell
Dunkirk Mayor A.J. Dolce unveiled the 2013 proposed budget Friday morning at city hall.
In addition to these increases, a decrease in the NRG PILOT program of 21 percent or $740,000 made up a $923,00 budget shortfall. To make up for this shortfall for Fund 1, taxes had to be raised, said Dolce. The potential tax increase would have been a total of $3.31, a 19.82 percent increase. The increase is broken down as follows: $2.65 for the NRG PILOT payment; $0.16 for state retirement; $0.39 for fire and police retirement; $0.07 for social security; and $0.03 for workers' compensation. However, the city was able to decrease the tax increase down to $0.45.
"We knew (a tax increase) was coming. But ... a potential $3.31 additional. We were able to wiggle it down to $0.45 per $1,000 (assessed value)," Dolce said.
Another increase residents will see is the minimum water rate.
Proposed city budget
Dunkirk Mayor A.J. Dolce has proposed a $21,925,657 budget. Highlights include:
Property tax hike of 45 cents per $1,000 assessed value.
Water rate hike by $11.25 to $33.75 a quarter.
Budget cuts totaling $100,000.
"The water rate increases for 2013 and 2014 are directly tied to the unfunded 2009 consent order," Dolce said.
Currently, the water rate is $22.50 which will increase by $11.25 to $33.75 a quarter for 2013. In 2014, an additional $11.25 per quarter will be charged, increasing to $45. At the end of 2014, rates will level off. A total of $252,000 is owed in debt service for the upgrades to the city's water system. A projected $439,000 will be earned from the water rate increases and will go to pay down the debt service. Dolce said unless a user will use more than 200,000 gallons per quarter, no other adjustments will be seen on bills. The sewer rates and the tipping fees will see no change.
The budget also saw a decrease with health insurance premiums while most other municipalities' health insurance saw an increase. Budget cuts totaling $100,000 were also made to the budget. These cuts were utility reductions at many of city buildings, "surgical cuts," as Dolce explained as well as $60,000 from the tax stabilization fund. The fund still maintains a balance of over $400,000.
Other notable adjustments to the 2013 budget will include street and sidewalk improvement money being allocated to Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) fund, a savings of $45,000.
"In our CDBG plan, we're focusing more on sidewalk improvement (and) street improvement. We'll be using a good portion to improve our streets from CDBG," Dolce said. "We'll be focusing more CDBG funds for that. You should be seeing a nice amount of roads done next year."
Money for the July 4 celebration and city festival contributions was also moved to a new DLDC appropriation line and was decreased by $5,000, to $20,000.
It is up to the City Council now to review the proposed budget and make any changes before adopting it.
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