Weekly Feature

2018-03-07 / Editorial

Town contracts, Huntley closing a continued focus in 2018

Town of Tonawanda Supervisor

Here it is, March already. The month that supposedly comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. Well, as I look out my office window, and as I’m sure all of you can attest to, it certainly did come in like a lion with about 10-12 inches of snow being dumped on us overnight on the evening of March 1 and the morning of March 2. Let’s hope that the saying holds true and March goes out like a lamb.

On Feb. 9, I had the opportunity to deliver my annual State of the Town address at the Ken-Ton Chamber of Commerce luncheon, to a record crowd I was informed, of approximately 200 people. As I have in prior years, I would like to take the opportunity over the next few months to highlight some of the points of my talk.

Perhaps nothing is more indicative of a municipality’s well-being than an overview of its financial status. The budget is a constant and ongoing planning process and requires cooperation with Town Board members and department heads. I am happy to report the town finances are in good shape and we retained our Aa2 bond rating from the NYC bond rating agencies. This excellent bond rating enables the town to do important projects, such as water and sewer infrastructure and recreation projects, around the town at lower interest rates.

As some of you are aware, 2018 marks the year that two of our three bargaining units entered their seventh year operating under New York State’s “Taylor Law.” By that, I mean that while they have a contract, they are operating under the same terms and conditions of the contract that were in effect at the end of 2011. I want to assure everyone that the Town Board is committed to seeking and obtaining a fair contract in 2018 for all parties, the bargaining units, the town and the taxpayers, recognizing the fiscal constraints of the NYS Property Tax Cap and the financial constraints imposed on the town by the Huntley Plant closing in 2016. The Huntley Plant closing on March 1, 2016, and the loss of the payment in lieu of taxes revenue that was associated with that property, will continue to cause a large gap in the town’s budget. The town will be submitting a second request in 2018 to the state for mitigation relief funds in relation to the closing of Huntley and, if/when it’s approved, we will receive up to 70 percent of the amount originally received under the former PILOT agreement. What does this loss mean in real dollars? It means the town will be receiving approximately $600,000 less in 2018 than we did in 2016; $800,000 less in 2019; $1 million less in 2020; and so on until the funding sunsets in 2023.

More on what we are doing to offset the financial losses caused by the plant closing will be coming in the months ahead. Until then, just a quick plug to ask you to check out all of the town activities on the town website. Included in the list of activities is our annual Easter egg hunt, which is being held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at Lincoln Park. Families with visual impairments or special needs are also welcome to join us in the DFK Pavilion for an egg hunt.

Spring is almost here.

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