LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) – The City of Lockport is quickly running out of money to pay bills and could be out of cash by August.
When Anne McCaffrey suddenly went from being Lockport’s Common Council President to mayor back in March, she discovered that the city was in deeper trouble than anyone had realized.
“We were definitely running in a position where the city was paying more out than it was taking in over a period of years,” she said. “We need to stop that practice immediately.”
The state took a serious look at Lockport’s finances after Michael Tucker resigned as mayor. He was being investigated in Lockport for questionable expenses on his credit card by another city employee.
While the mayor was cleared of any wrongdoing or cover up, the State Comptroller’s Office recommended that Lockport sell bonds and pay off past debts by borrowing more than $5 million. This would free up money to pay for the city’s essential services, including police and fire protection.
The funding issues have increased tensions with the city’s fire department. Lockport laid off some firefighters along with other employees and now has gone to court in an effort to cut back on the minimum number of required firefighters on any given shift.
McCaffrey said, “Really, the difficulty for the city right now is making sure our finances are on track and that we’re getting our previous years’ debt under control so that we can go forward and have a positive resolution.”
Common Council members took emergency action to keep the cash flow running Tuesday night and voted to sell bonds to pay off the mounting debt.
“We’re getting our fiscal ship in order, and we will straighten this out. It’s going to take us some time. It took us some years to get into this. It’s going to take us a few years to get out. But I strongly believe with the assistance with the comptrollers office, and the austerity measures, that in the city we will get this in shape,” McCaffrey said.
But state lawmakers in Albany ultimately have to approve the move.
State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin tells News 4 ,”There’s a lot of people moving quickly right now but I’m confident that we’ll be able to get the bill through both houses by Thursday,” which is when state lawmakers adjourn.