Council begins budget review Friday

Dunkirk’s Common Council will begin its public review of Mayor Anthony J. Dolce’s proposed 2014 city budget Friday at 9 a.m. in City Hall. Friday’s two three-hour sessions are scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Another session is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 8 from 9 a.m. to noon.

Dolce presented his budget proposal on Oct. 15, which called for the current real property tax rate of $17.301632 per one thousand dollars of assessed valuation to remain the same in 2014. The city’s total assessed value is $279,596,568.

Under Dolce’s proposal, the city would spend a total of $21,967,847 with the general fund set at $15,241,260. The water fund is proposed at $3,094,544 while the wastewater fund is at $3,632,043. The total to be collected in real property taxes is set at $4,837,477 and is used in the general fund. In 2011, the city collected $4,665,568 in real property taxes while 2012’s figure was $4,695,259. The 2013 budget called for $4,830,639 in real property taxes to be collected, $6,838 less that Dolce’s 2014 proposal. A scheduled increase in basic water rates will see an increase of $45 per year for each customer.

Dolce was asked Wednesday if anything had changed in his 2014 budget proposal since it was presented.

“Yes. We had a situation with the new software that caused some lines to be underbudgeted, so we’re making adjustments and it’s something that we’ll have to physically make in the system when the review process begins, but it will not change the bottom line,” he replied, adding the announced tax, water and sewer rates will remain the same. “It was a not so pleasant surprise when we were doing more reviews in the system. Fiscal Affairs Officer (Richard) Halas and myself will be making a formal recommendation to council, saying this is what needs to be done in order to accommodate the mistakes.”

Dolce said calling the problems glitches in the new system was a great way to classify it.

“I really found the system to be user friendly and helpful but unfortunately, it didn’t carry over some critical numbers that we needed when calculating personnel lines, which left us short, significantly short, in Fund I, but we’ll be able to make some adjustments and keep everything the same as far as the bottom line goes,” he explained, adding the corrections will be ready by Friday. “The numbers are pretty hard as far as what we’re short, it’s the how we’re going to fix it we’re putting the final touches on. I do have what we’re short. I guess the best answer is half the shortage is here, the plan to fix it is here, it’s getting the final numbers on how I’m going to do that. We’re there, just firming them up.”

Any changes to the 2014 budget will have to be done by Common Council resolution.

Dolce will be the first person to answer council questions and is scheduled from 9 to 10 a.m. Police Chief Da-vid Ortolano is up next with Diane Andrasik from the Historical Society to follow, each scheduled for 15 minutes. Chief Water Treatment Plant Operator Bob Lawrie is listed from 10:30-11 a.m. with Dunkirk Free Library Director Janice Dekoff, David Briska from the Dunkirk Lighthouse and Chris Schaeffer from Adams Art Gallery and Tim Gornikiewicz from the city’s Recreation Department each having 15-minute sessions to round out the morning.

Department heads begin at 1 p.m. with Development Director Steve Neratko leading off the scheduled 15-minute sessions. Assessor Tom Mleczko, Personnel Administrator Roger Heyden, Water Meter Supervisor Jim Fafinski, City Clerk Nicole Joiner, Fire Chief Keith Ahlstrom, Payroll Clerk Kevin Mikula and Building and Zoning Officer Alan Zurawski are scheduled for 15 minutes each before Department of Public Works Director Tony Gugino and Public Works Supervisor Mike Porpiglia are lined up for 30-minute sessions each.

City Treasurer Mark Woods is slated for 30 minutes to begin the Nov. 8 session. The rest of the schedule calls for 15-minute sessions beginning at 9:30 a.m. with City Attorney Ron Szot, Lawrie, Dog Control Officer Steve Purol, Chief Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Sean Raynor, Sanitary Chemist Suzanne Johnston and Michael Carbone from the Cable Access station.

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