One Resident Speaks at Public Listening Session on NT’s Proposed 2019 Budget

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By: Brendan McDonough

Reporter for North Tonawanda

Despite being residents’ only chance to comment on the proposed 2019 North Tonawanda budget prior to the day city officials will vote on it,  only one person stepped up to the mic to speak at Wednesday night’s public hearing.

The $37 million budget calls for a 2.9 percent property tax increase. For every home valued at $100 thousand it would equate to about a $38 increase.

For BJ Mandawater it is an increase he says he cannot afford and, instead, says he would like to see the City increase water and sewer rates and cut city staff.

“I would very much prefer that the water rates be raised to make this utility self-funded just like National Grid,” said Mandawater. “If the water rate was increase to $ 3.50 and the sewer rate to $5 with a $2.50 increase the funds to achieve this could probably be raised. The Mayor’s message points out that there are no cuts in services and to that I have to ask why.”

Over a 10 year period in North Tonawanda there have been three years of no tax increases, three years of a decreases and four years of an increase of less than one percent.

Mayor Pappas says he has already cut City services as much as he can.

“No one likes increases,” said Pappas. “In terms of cut backs, our DPW alone was at a high of 127 now they are down to 65. That department has been cut in half. How much more can we cut and still supply the services that the citizens expect? Out fire department is at the lowest it has been. Our Parks Department is down to bare minimum and yet the workloads have increased.”

The Mayor says he cannot make any more cuts of office staff.

“We have to remember the business we are in,” said Pappas. “We are in a people business. We are in the service business.”

Residents will have another chance to voice their concerns on the budget Thursday, November 15th, before members of the Common Council cast their votes on the budget.

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