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LOCKPORT - Making only minor changes in the draft spending plan presented Wednesday, the Town Board may approve a preliminary 2013 budget as soon as next week that would see the tax bill on an average home decrease a few dollars.

In most of the town, the tab for a home assessed at $100,000 would be $695.92, a decrease of $6.42 from the 2012 bill. The town imposes no general property tax, but there are property taxes for special districts as well as a flat fee for garbage and recycling collection.

Figures are different in the Carlisle Gardens and Lincoln Village subdivisions, which have special districts. In Carlisle Gardens, where the average assessment is $110,000, the average tax bill would fall $7.64. In Lincoln Village, with its average assessment of $70,000, the tax bill would decrease $4.50.

"Our goal is always to be flat," Supervisor Marc R. Smith said.

The $14,275,604 budget - a spending increase of 1.65 percent or $232,299 - assumes that the town's sales tax revenue will increase by $150,000.

Tax bills in most of the town would have gone down significantly if not for the decision to impose a 23.74 percent increase in the water district levy outside the two major subdivisions.

Smith said the reason is that the water district fund balance, which was about $1 million a few years ago, has fallen to $200,000, and officials are concerned about having enough money for emergency repairs.

"We need to build up the fund balance," Smith said. "We make these tough decisions now, so five years from now, we don't wonder where we're going to get $2 million from."

Last year, the town increased water sales rates, but that merely stabilized the account, Smith said.

Even though Waste Management, the town's refuse contractor, asked for a 1.5 percent increase, the board decided to use the fund balance in the refuse account to avoid passing the increase on to the residents.

The budget assumes 2 percent salary increases for elected officials. Smith's new salary would be $50,245, and the four councilmen would be paid $9,664 each, with the member chosen deputy supervisor to earn twice that.

Town Clerk Nancy A. Brooks would be paid $49,813; Highway Superintendent David J. Miller $61,379; and Justices Raymond E. Schilling and Leonard G. Tilney Jr. $25,699 each.

In other ways, the board altered only slightly the draft presented by budget officer Kate Carter. The board decided to increase contributions to senior citizen programs by $1,000 - $900 to the Dale Association and $100 to the Rapids Senior Center. The Dale Association is to receive $46,500 and the Rapids center $1,000.

Major projects for the year include $20,000 for a new gazebo in Day Road Park; $20,000 to apply a new coat of wood chips to the nature trail in John B. Austin Nature Park; and $25,000 as the town's portion of the grant-funded development of the wilderness in Lytle Park.

The town is spending $30,000 more on liability insurance because of a rate increase and an extra policy for the Day Road Park restrooms, vandalized twice since their opening this summer.

State-mandated employee pension contributions in the general fund are up $47,000, and health premiums are up $46,000.





email: tprohaska@buffnews.com