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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

County lawmakers approved a budget on Tuesday with a .79 percent hike
The Niagara County Legislature approved a $336 million spending plan Tuesday night that increases the local tax rate by a little less than a percent.

The 2015 budget — approved 11-4 — sets a full value tax rate of $7.66 per $1,000 of assessed value, up 6 cents, or .79 percent, over the 2014 rate. It also restores step increases to unionized county employees in the coming fiscal year.

“This budget accomplished several significant goals, including direct tax relief to residents of the municipalities outside Niagara Falls,” said Legislature Majority Leader Rick Updegrove, R-Lockport, following the budget’s passage.

Updegrove echoed many of the majority caucus' opinions in expressing frustration with Albany during the budget process, upset that state funding levels since 2011 have been altered to shift some of the tax burdens to county taxpayers.

“Gov. Cuomo could lower the costs borne by Niagara County taxpayers by $2.3 million by simply restoring the previous Safety Net funding levels and not passing costs on to county taxpayers for a program that Albany mandates,” Updegrove said.

While the state formerly funded 71 percent of the cost of that program, beginning in 2011 the state formula changed the state funding level to 50 percent—meaning county taxpayers have to make up the difference in the increasingly expensive program.

County lawmakers also approved by an 11-4 vote a plan to provide 75 percent of the county’s share of Seneca Niagara Casino slot machine revenues to the county’s 12 towns and the cities of North Tonawanda and Lockport for tax relief, while devoting the remaining 25 percent to economic development efforts.

2015 County Tax Rates by municipality (2014 rates)

  • Cambria -------------- $7.74 ($7.61)
  • Hartland -------------- $7.67 ($7.61)
  • Lockport (city) ------- $7.68 ($7.62)
  • Lockport (town) ------ $7.68 ($7.62)
  • Newfane ------------- $8.34 ($8.27)
  • Royalton ------------- $7.67 ($8.27)
  • Somerset ------------- $7.67 ($7.61)

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