Lockport Common Council to Vote on 2021 Budget Tuesday, State Comptroller Recommends Managing Expectations on Revenue

Although City of Lockport Mayor Michelle Roman’s proposed 2021 budget has been approved by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, a vote last week on confirming any related legislation was put off for a special meeting happening Tuesday, November 24th.  Currently, Mayor Roman’s submitted budget calls for a tax rate increase 29 cents higher than the current rate, placing it at $18.96 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The special meeting on Tuesday is predicted to yield a lower figure for the taxpayer. 

In addition, the State Comptroller’s office recommended managing expectations on revenue from state aid and sales tax. 

Comptroller’s Report on State Aid Expectations:

“The City’s 2021 proposed budget includes estimated revenues of $2,120,420 in State aid, which is $530,105, or 20 percent less than the State aid to be received in 2020. We caution City officials to be mindful that due to the continuously evolving circumstances caused by the pandemic, it is difficult to predict the effects on the 2020-21 and 2021-22 State budgets. As a result, City officials should closely monitor this revenue estimate throughout 2021 and develop a plan to balance the budget if this revenue projection is not fully realized.”

Comptroller’s Report on Sales Tax Expectations:

“The City’s 2021 proposed budget includes estimated revenues of $5,535,000 for sales tax. Sales tax received in 2019 totaled $6,661,736. Sales tax received through August 2020 was $3,795,450, which is $309,997 or 7.6 percent less than 2019 receipts for the same period ($4,105,427).” 

Overtime budgeting proposals were also examined by the report, with $315,000 for the police department, $120,000 for the fire department, and $90,000 for street maintenance.  The total overtime appropriation is $110,000 less than was budgeted in 2020 and $55,000 less than the projected overtime expenditures for 2020. 

The report expressed concerns over these overtime cuts, stating, “While department officials told us they are making an effort to ensure they stay within budgets, overtime can be driven by factors beyond their control. In addition, the City is in negotiations to increase minimum staffing levels for the fire department which may result in increased overtime. As a result of these factors, the Common Council should ensure that these appropriations are reasonable when adopting the final budget.”

FEATURE PHOTO: City of Lockport Mayor Michelle Roman and 5th Ward Representative Mark Divine discuss the budget with other members of the Common Council through a Zoom call (11/18/2020).