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CITY BUDGET: Big questions on state funds

Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas’ city budget proposal for 2021, at first glance, seems reasonable. There’s no planned tax increase during a worldwide pandemic, but fees for garbage pick up and sewer rates will be rising.

“This budget this year, in my five years of being mayor was the most challenging task I’ve had to deal with,” he said last week. “There were things that I wanted to include, I just couldn’t include in this budget. This pandemic has caused us to rethink all the things and plans that we had place. … This budget took a lot of time and effort, I want to acknowledge the help of all of our department heads, this was not done by myself.”

Rosas’ assessment is fair, but it does not address a major issue moving forward. It’s called transition aid and it comes directly from New York state.

Those funds were to help offset the losses from the NRG Energy Inc. plant, which when it was chugging at full capacity, paid some $3 million in tax revenues to city coffers.

With those funds being less than 10% of that amount since the facility is idle, who fills the rest of that gap in the $24 million plan? Albany was chipping in around $1.3 million, but how can it afford to continue on that path knowing its bleak picture that is a $16 billion deficit.

Those funds are no guarantee for next year.

Council will begin its review of the budget soon. This body, which has butted heads with the mayor until the last couple of months, has no easy task moving forward.

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