Ownership and Maintenance
Streetlights in the Town of Tonawanda are owned and maintained by the Town. On your Town of Tonawanda property tax bill you will see a line item reflecting your property's streetlight tax and reflects your share of the cost to maintain the streetlights and pay for their energy use. New York State law determines the policies, while cities, towns and villages cover the cost by general tax levy.

Report a Street Light Concern
If you notice a street light that needs attention, you can use the Town of Tonawanda Streetlight Outage Reporting Form or contact Collin deGuehery of the Engineering Department at (716) 877-8805.

Two Types of Districts:

  • Boulevard District – Includes all main thoroughfares in various areas of the town; costs are borne by all Town residents.
  • Residential Districts – Costs are borne by districts. With the acceptance of the steps below by the area residents, comes the responsibility for the cost of the district – via property tax assessment.

To Form a Residential District or Change an Existing District:

  • Primary resident contacts the Office of the Town Engineer to request streetlights in a specific area.
  • Town Engineering department staff will prepare a preliminary petition. That petition will be mailed out to residents. The residents may respond via phone or email. If more than 66% of the owners are in favor of the project, then it will proceed to the next step.
  • Town Engineering staff will do preliminary design and prepare cost estimates. A letter will be sent to the residents that will include their estimated tax impact ahead of the formal petition.
  • Formal petition prepared by Town Engineering Staff and the Town Legal Department.
  • Primary resident may accompany Town representatives to circulate the formal petition to residents to observe taxpayer signatures.
  • If the owners of properties totaling more than 50% of the assessed value are in favor, and sign the petition, then the project will proceed to the next step.
  • Town Engineering staff will prepare and distribute a letter notifying the residents the results of the formal petition. If the residents are in favor of the lights, that letter will include the date that the Town Board will hold the public hearing.
  • The Town Board then holds a Public Hearing. Residents are encouraged to attend and voice their opinions on the project.
  • After the Public Hearing, the Town Board will then make the decision to proceed.
  • If the Town Board decides to proceed, the Town Engineering department will obtain a design and prepare bidding documents.
  • The Town Board will call for bids. Once they are returned, they will make a determination to award to low bidder or throw bids out if they greatly exceed the estimated budget.

If the proposal passes, a “Consolidated Lighting District” item is added to your property tax bill that represents yearly energy and maintenance expenses. An approximate tax rate is $1.78 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The town then proceeds to design and complete the project. The location of the streetlights to be installed will be determined at this stage.

Contact Us
For more information please contact the Engineering Department at (716) 877-8805

Additional Information on Street Lights

Residential Lighting Districts
Historically, residential lighting districts have been in operation since 1928 in District 1 (Old Towne). Over the years, districts were added as new areas were developed and population grew. As development took place, several large developers created area lighting districts which covered broad areas and lighting was put in place when actual building took place. This simplified the installation of the street lighting program as opposed to a large number of small districts, some only one block in size, petitioned by area property owners.

Formation of Districts
Districts were formed only when owners petitioned the service and agreed to accept the cost. In the case of the developer, the developer initiated requests. It was simple since at the time there was a single owner of the larger tracts. Otherwise the initiation came from property owners of the specific areas, assisted by the town, to approve or disapprove the lighting district creation. A minimum of a 51% majority of the assessed value of parcels in the proposed district must be made.

New and Consolidated Districts
Since the 1980s some new districts were formed, and the same number rejected, mostly because of the costs assessed on an ad valorem base. Also, since the 1980s, a number of districts were consolidated to ease the administrative burden and cost - groupings were based on similar tax rates. At the same time a renovation program was undertaken by the town with National Grid (formerly Niagara Mohawk) to upgrade the quality of lighting and reduce energy costs by using high-pressure sodium luminaries.

Consolidated Townwide Residential Lighting District
As a result of these innovative programs we were able to conclude the plan to combine all but one residential district into a consolidated townwide residential lighting district. This was approved through public information sessions and ultimately approved at a public hearing on October 25, 1999. The result was a single tax rate per $1,000 townwide, which actually reduced the cost for a vast majority of town residents.

Types of lighting systems include:

  1. General Highway (Boulevard) District – This district includes all main thoroughfares in various areas of the town such as Sheridan Drive, Colvin Boulevard, Delaware Avenue, Military Avenue, Niagara Falls Boulevard and the like. Street light costs are borne by all town residents.
  2. Kenilworth - This residential district is bounded by Niagara Falls Boulevard, Kenmore Avenue, Montrose Avenue and Chalmers Avenue.
  3. Consolidated Districts – Formerly 114 residential districts, except Kenilworth, these were merged in 1999. Streetlight costs are borne by each district.