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Niagara County prepares to pass 2013 budget

BY: Rikki Cason | December 08, 2012

Niagara County’s 2013 proposed budget will be passed at the next legislature meeting at 7 p.m. Dec. 18.

The proposed budget would come with a three percent per $1,000 of assessed value increase. About $23 more for a home valued at $100,000.

The tax levy for the general fund is $74.4 million and is a 3.7 percent budget to budget increase.

When putting the budget together, they had to face nine state mandates, which consume 90 percent of county property tax levy statewide.

The proposed 2013 budget will also come with the elimination of 40 positions. This includes 35 full-time, four part-time and one seasonal position.

Many of the positions to be cut are currently vacant, but there will be reductions. According to County Manager Jeff Glatz those cuts come from the sale of the Niagara County’s Certified Home Health Agency and the switch to privatized medical/mental health services at the jail.

The budget public hearing was held Tuesday, with few comments from the public.

A representative from the blue collar employee union stated this was the second year in a row step raises had been eliminated, despite their contract. But, he said, that will not stop them from going to work.

“These dedicated workers will come to work every day and serve the public that trusts them regardless of the betrayal of this budget once again,” he said.

He urged county lawmakers to give them the “respect they deserve” and restore their raises.

A pastor from St. John’s in Niagara Falls came to speak on the “cuts” in the senior lunch program through the Office For the Aging.

“It is always unfair to balance a budget on the back of the weakest members of our community,” he said. “It is always unfair to look to the places that really can’t fight back in order to withdraw money for other projects. It says a lot about us when we go to the weakest first, instead of finding ways to support them and to build them. They made our communities what they are now.”

Office For the Aging Director Ken Genewick said the three nutrition sites that were slated to be closed earlier in the year, but remained open, will continue to stay open.

Those sites, however, will be reduced from five days a week to three.

The sites include St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church in Niagara Falls, Tuscarora Nation House and Summit View Plaza in Niagara Falls.

He said this will allow residents of that area to still get the meals they need at their sites, but will also allow for the money saved to be used for additional senior programs across the county.

The reduction will prevent the filling of a vacant position and no further cuts will have to be made.

Residents attending the affected sites will have a transportation option that would take them to other sites in the county on the two days they are closed.

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