Deal Reached on Falls Budget; No Vetoes Expected

City Council Chairman Andrew Touma

City Council Chairman Andrew Touma

With both sides making compromises, Niagara Falls Council Chairman Andrew Touma said there is agreement on the 2017 city budget, with lawmakers finally settling on a total of $558,000 in cuts to the mayor’s proposed $91 million spending plan with no mayoral vetoes on the horizon.

“It shows what government can do when people work together,” said Touma on Wednesday night.  “That’s more than a half-million dollar savings to the people of Niagara Falls and I’ve been assured that no mayoral vetoes are coming when we get the budget back later this month (due by Dec. 15).”

The plan will cut the tax rate for homeowners by 41 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation, much more of a decrease than the 8 cents per $1,000 originally proposed by Mayor Paul Dyster.  The non-homestead tax rate increase is reduced from $1.90 per thousand of assessed value to $1.25 per thousand.

“It is a win for the taxpayers all around,” said Touma, adding that lawmakers combed through the mayor’s budget proposal to find ways to cut taxes and still preserve services.

Also as part of the compromises reached with the administration, Touma said lawmakers will raise the mayor’s administrative assistant’s salary to $49,000 from the current salary of $40,540.  The mayor’s plan would have raised the salary of Meg Rossman to $58,000.

Lawmakers have also agreed to a salary of $48,000 for a full time city clerk, a post that is currently filled by a retired worker at a salary of $30,000, which could be continued.  But Touma says lawmakers see a potential to recover the cost of the pay hike by the work of a full-time city clerk, and that was their reasoning.

Touma said that through compromise and negotiation, a budget was crafted that will serve the taxpayers well and he praised his fellow councilmembers for their dedication to finding savings across the board in the proposed budget and provide tax relief to the citizens of the city.

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