December 19, 2007

2008 County Budget

The Niagara County Legislature has adopted its 2008 budget which on the surface seems like a fairly successful attempt to keep costs down while maintaining services. The countywide average tax rate will be $8.71 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, which is 2 cents lower than this year’s rate. The spending total is $302 million, which is $8.5 million less than this year’s budget.

What caught my eye is the county tax rate per thousand. While some in the community believe that the tax levy is the most critical component of the budget, those who understand government know that the tax rate truly drives what we as property owners pay, not the levy (which incidentally went down $5.6 million).

To once again attempt to clarify the difference, if a company comes into Niagara County and opens a business that is assessed at $50 million, the taxes which are derived from that company increase the tax levy by the appropriate amount. Because the tax levy has gone up, that does not mean that the amount we as homeowners pay will go up. What matters is the tax rate.

In Niagara County, the tax rate has gone down. For me, as a Town of Lockport resident, my tax rate is going down almost 4.5%.

But as alluded to before, the tax rate is what we need to focus on. If you live in the City of Lockport, your combined tax rate is over $50 per thousand. The county portion is $8.69 per thousand. If you live in the City of Lockport, approximately 15% of your combined taxes are county taxes. But you still have idiots in the local print media, radio and cable who believe that the county portion of our tax bills is the problem.

As a Town of Lockport resident, I'm ecstatic with the outcome of the 2008 budget. Could more have been done? Sure, but I'll take a tax reduction every time. In fact, I don't need a reduction, just hold the line. To the Leg, the County Manager and the department heads, thank you for doing your part to reduce my taxes. Maybe the school districts will take heed.

County tax rate per thousand by municipality are as follows:

Cambria, $7.83, down 34 cents; Hartland, $7.81, down 34 cents; Lewiston, $8.70, down 18 cents; City of Lockport, $8.69, up 1 cent; Town of Lockport, $7.83, down 34 cents; Newfane, $7.84, down 31 cents.

Niagara Falls, $8.43, up 25 cents; Town of Niagara, $12.70, up $1.42; North Tonawanda, $8.50, up 25 cents; Pendleton, $7.80, down 34 cents; Porter, $7.81, down 34 cents; Royalton, $9.34, up 56 cents; Somerset, $9.81, up 37 cents; Wheatfield, $10.60, up 11 cents; Wilson, $8.41, up 25 cents.


Pete M said...

I don't know the details and the numbers, but I agree, if my county taxes are going down, I'm happy. I'm not sold on the public information officer. But, I know many governmental agancies have a PR person to do press releases, etc. If this person can help spread a positive message about NC I guess it's worth a shot.

vintage said...

Did you see today's two Buffalo News acrticles? It's amazing how Mr. Prohaska can repeatedly get away with labelling the new positions as 'patronage jobs.' I think the editorializing should be left to the editorial page... or these wonderful blogs.

frank degeorge said...

Prohaska has been Virtusos's lapdog for years, so this shouldn't be a surprise.

I just hope that the tabled resolution for lifetime healthcare for politicians doesn't rear its ugly head again.

Sweaterman said...

This county needs public relations officer. There is not one legislator who brings thoughts of the great orators such as Churchill and Reagan. Niagara County needs a spokesman that is not only knowledgable but one with great speaking ability.

Larry S said...

I thought the same thing about Prohaska. I think he has the word "patronage" in his story eight times. I guess any job that isn't union is patronage. And people wonder why the county wants a PIO. When youre battling the rado, the newspapers and cable for the ability to publicize the positive aspects of the county, youre going to need all the help you can get.

pirate's code said...

A public information office shouldn't be about "the ability to publicize the positive aspects of the county."

A PIO should be about presenting factual information in a timely fashion. He or she should be about helping various county departments (including the leg) deal with public and media inquiries. A PIO should help put together an emergency communications plan in the event of a disaster so that the county speaks with one voice. A good PIO should never be a replacement for elected officials -- we have a right to hear from them directly -- but he or she can and should be an aide to those folks. And, a good PIO is something of a traffic cop, helping coordinate the flow of information to and from the public. Not a barrier to information, but rather someone who makes it easier for accurate information to flow.

If, in doing all that, the county is viewed positively, great. But if the position is being created to simply spin info to some political agenda or another, well, then, no thank you.

sick & tired said...

Patronage is, by definition, something that can be doled out by the legislature in its own discretion. In the case of jobs, at will employment by the legislature is patronage.

As far as a a PIO goes, why does the county need one? Between and among the wonderful Sam Ferraro, Mike Casals, Mickey Sloma, Greg Lewis, the 50gs to the Buff-Niagara folks, the mega-bucks pumped into the convention and touirism office, Bill Hilts, The Leg Clerk (who btw, has 2 full time staff people) and the rest of the county PR apparatus, the last thing one might think Niagara needs is a PIO!

As far as Prohaska, he's a died in the wool Republican. Even back in his WLVL days, one could detect a favored slant to his reporting in favor of the Republicans of the day. That is, giving more quotes, time and attention to Rep talking points.

Fat Tony said...

Sick and tired, you couldn't be more wrong. Prohasksa takes every quote Virtuoso gives him and uses it....every single time. And all Dennis does is bash, bash, bash. He is doing a great job of leading the minority into oblivion.

sick & tired said...

What Prohaska does is report the news. If the minority leader takes issue with something the majority is doing, that's what most objective observers would call "news." And in some quarters it would be called "fair and balanced" because both sides are reported. I know Prohaska and i've read him for years. He gives plenty of ink and quotes to the majority caucus also. And he knows everything that happens in Niagara County and he writes it all down in teeny tiny little block letters in his steno notebook. Someday, those notes ought to be published as a compendium of the political and governmental history of Niagara County.

It seems that many who populate this blog are biased toward and defensive of anything that can somehow can be construed as negative against the majority caucus, even when its simply noted that certain positions are "patronage' in nature.

The ruling party gets to pick and chose whomever they like. And FWI, the term "patronage" is neutral in meaning. When new leadership is elected, the appointees of the other old "patrons" are replaced by the new patron's appointees. Thus the term "patronage position." Its not a dirty word, its just the way it is.

I think the overblown defensiveness here is because these new positions seem to some, especially the those in the minority caucus, to be positions that are not really necessary in a county that is supposedly in a "perpetual financial crisis" as Greg Lewis likes to say.

And those who support the majority get a bit defensive because many folks in the community who pay attention do raise their eyebrows when new positions are created in non-critical, non-core functions of county government.

If there was more intellectual honesty on this board, there would be more of an objective view of the creation of new the positions and some criticism of these new plum jobs. Doe anyone here really believe that the majority is going to hire the best qualified if the best qualified happens not to be someone in the Rep party favor?

Does anyone really believe that Joe Vacanti and Mal Needler are the best qualified of all the applicants for the positions they are assuming? That politics and "patronage" have nothing to do with it??

If you do, then I have a deal for you on some land in Wheatfield. Get it now, before the Land of Oz announces the start of construction. No one else believes, but you have faith in the self-serving pronouncements of politicians. Yes you *do* Get it!!!