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As funds dry up, city seeks loan

Dunkirk needs another Revenue Anticipation Note to fund operation, Jeff Smith (right) of city financial advisors Municipal Solutions said. Looking on at left is Randy Woodbury, Dunkirk Department of Public Works director.

Dunkirk will need a new Revenue Anticipation Note (aka RAN) to fund operations, city officials were told this week.

Although the state government has backed a $17 million lifeline which includes a Comptroller’s Office watch on city finances, the money will take a while to filter through. Meanwhile, the city still needs cash flow.

That was the basic logic behind a Common Council Finance Committee presentation by Jeff Smith of Municipal Solutions, advocating the RAN. Introducing Smith, City Treasurer Mark Woods said Municipal Solutions has advised the city on financial matters for “probably 40 years.”

Smith noted the city’s 2023 RAN, and said Dunkirk needed another one until the state certifies its exact deficit.

“We’ve got some rough projections of what it may be. The question is, we may not need all of it,” he said. Smith said around $15.5 million would likely be needed but he advocated authorization of a RAN up to $17 million.

Smith is optimistic about the bond market. “We don’t have to scamper around for unconventional fundraising methods,” he said.

He called for a Common Council resolution at next week’s meeting to authorize the RAN. “We’ll work to refine that as low as we can go,” he said. Trustees Natalie Luczkowiak and Abigail Yerico indicated they would sponsor the resolution.

Smith also pointed out that the city hasn’t had property tax hikes for years. “Costs were increasing but the tax rate was not,” he said.

Smith added, “We’re trying to identify services the city is paying 100% for but actually benefits the entire county.”

He used the term “rightsizing” in reference to city employees. However, “the first big role (will be) making sure we get timely, accurate information” on finances from officials and departments.

“And the state will require that we will,” chimed in Ellen Luczkowiak, city fiscal affairs officer.

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