"I believe [it] is just a way to try and circumvent the property tax cap that was imposed by the Governor.”
That's businessman Michael Deakin's assessment of the North Tonawanda City Schools taking a look at a possible new utility tax on all city residents and businesses.
Deakin says, "This will affect everybody, not just businesses. It will affect every home owner in North Tonawanda."
School superintendent Gregory Woytila confirms what's been first reported in other news outlets including the Niagara Gazette, that the district is examining whether a tax of up to 3% should be tacked on to natural gas, electric and cell phone bills of city businesses and residents.
Exploring the utility tax option comes from what could be described a North Tonawanda school's million dollar problem. If everything remains the same next year, staffing, classroom sizes, programs and the like, Woytila says the budget will grow by about a million dollars.
But Woytile says maxing out the property tax cap next year is estimated to bring in less than $400,000. The superintendent, staff and school board members are all working to bring the budget back into the black. The utility tax proposal is one of several options being considered.
Deakin says if the utility tax was approved, it would cost his two North Tonawanda businesses in excess of $6,000.
"And who’s to say it’s not $8,000 the next year and $10,000 the year after? Just one more thing to be concerned about,” says Deakin.
Doing business in New York State is tough enough already says Deakin.
"“If I had a choice and all my family and friends were not here in New York State then I wouldn’t be here either," and after a pause Deakin adds, "and neither would my two businesses.”