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No tax hike in Rosas’ proposed budget

Holding the line

OBSERVER Photo by Jo Ward Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas.

“Our proposed fiscal year 2020 budget is balanced. We will not be raising water rates, sewer fees or taxes this year,” was the sentiment shared by Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas at his Friday afternoon budget presentation. “The city of Dunkirk is moving forward and becoming a destination for families, businesses and visitors. I am here today to tell you that we will continue to move forward with determination and dedication toward seeing continued progress for our city.”

The budget for the city totals $24,671,628. There will be no property tax increase, maintaining the rate of $17.25 per $1,000 of assessed value.

According to Rosas, since coming into office in 2016, fiscal responsibility has been of the utmost importance. “My major focus over the past four years has been to work with federal, state, and county agencies, as well as private businesses, to bring added revenue into the city,” Rosas said. “The added revenues and controlled spending will help alleviate much of the loss of revenue as a result of the closing of NRG.”

Currently the feasibility of the prior NRG site is being looked at using a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. The city hopes to see development there that will help assuage the loss of the revenue. Until then, Rosas has made what he calls “strategic changes” in the city’s spending.

“We are the sole supplier of the North County Water District, which is projected to bring in another $500,000 annually,” Rosas stated. “Additionally, the LED project, that is scheduled to be completed very soon, will save the city $250,000 annually. I continue to work with our state leaders for their support of continuing the transitional aid, as well as future funding through the NYS Financial Restructuring Board; I feel strongly that our requests will be met positively.”

Rosas said he is also looking at increasing revenues for the city by working with local businesses, one of which is Wells Enterprises, the new owners of Fieldbrook Foods. Their expansion in the city will increase staffing by 70-100 new employees. The new cold storage warehouse, Universal Steel and Special Metals, along with other manufacturers are also seeing a boom in employment opportunities.

“We have implemented a small business loan program using our CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funds that will provide support for new start-up businesses as well as funds for existing businesses wanting to expand,” Rosas added.

Since his first year in office Rosas has been working with the New York State Financial Restructuring Board and is ready to make a proposal to bring in state-of-the-art parking meters.

“These meters will not only be helpful as we grow our business district, but will enhance the needs for customer parking as well as increase the city’s revenues,” Rosas said. “Planning for future development in the downtown area is critical, continued economic development is a priority. We have, for the first time in over 40 years, a comprehensive plan that will guide us with the direction needed for future development in the city of Dunkirk.”

Other things Rosas mentioned were the addition of six new full time positions in the city, to help ease the burden on overtime. As it stands, the city budgets $600,000 for overtime costs. With these new positions, that number would decrease. One position has been added each to the police and fire departments respectively and four positions have been added to the Department of Public Works.

“I have analyzed all departments and reviewed the service delivery expectations of our city taxpayers and feel the need to include these positions in the city’s workforce accordingly,” Rosas commented.

Rosas’ goals in 2020 are to continue to look for ways in which the city government can function smarter and more efficiently; and continuing to work with the offices of the governor, congress, senate, assembly and the office of the county executive, as well as other entities to secure funding for continued enhancement to facilities and infrastructure.

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