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Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Labeled as "fiscally depressed" and facing a budget crunch, the City of Lockport on Monday accepted the early retirement of four members of the Lockport Police Department.

Leaving the department - with nearly 130 years combined experience - are Capt. Rick Podgers, Det. Lt. Scott Seekins, Lt. Dave Barrancotta, and Officer Joseph Brown.

Podgers, Seekins and Barrancotta were greeted by nearly 100 people as they left City Hall on Monday, including Police Chief Larry Eggert, Mayor Mike Tucker, former Lockport Lockport Police Chief Neil Merritt and Niagara County Sheriff Jim Voutour. Brown was not at Monday's ceremony.

The retirements allow the department to avoid what could have been four layoffs, as the city's 2014 budget called for four less officers than were allowed in 2013. The 2014 budget also reduces the number of city firefighters by eight, a member of the building inspection department, a staff member from the clerk's office, a position within the youth department and one person from highways and parks.

Tucker has said that some of the eight firefighter jobs could be saved in much the same manner that the police officer jobs were saved - through attrition by retirement. There has not been any announcement of that happening, however. Nor has there been any announcement of which eight firefighters would be let go. Those positions are slated for elimination on Wednesday - Jan. 1.

Even with the staff cuts, the $23.7 million general fund budget required a 2.3 percent increase in the city tax rate.

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