Niagara County lawmakers approved a $316.5 million spending plan Tuesday night in Lockport, with a 1.8 percent property tax increase that is below the county's legally-required 2 percent tax cap.
The 2012 county budget was approved by a 16-3 vote.
The approved budget sets a full value tax rate of $7.63 per $1,000 of assessed value, a 13-cent shift from the 2011 spending plan. Taxes remain sharply lower than the $8.78 per $1,000 in 2004. The Legislature has, despite this year's minor tax increase, managed to preserve a 13 percent tax reduction accomplished since then.
The approved budget also imposed several austerity measures, including freezes in pay increases for county employees as Niagara County's government continues to chart a conservative budgeting course during a period of declining state aid and increases in unfunded state mandates.