Most Lancaster residents would pay lower taxes in 2013 under a proposed budget from Supervisor Dino J. Fudoli that makes targeted spending cuts, anticipates a jump in sales tax revenue and applies money from town reserve funds.
Fudoli’s $30.7 million budget plan, his first as supervisor, raises spending by 1.53 percent because of increased costs for debt service and employee pensions.
But the budget plan would lower the property tax levy – the amount it intends to collect in property taxes – by 1 percent from the previous year, the first such decrease since 2000, Fudoli said.
“The taxpayers put me here for one reason ... to lower taxes or get the spending under control. I think this budget is a good start in that direction,” Fudoli said Tuesday.
The budget proposal includes no layoffs, though it eliminates a vacant officer’s position in the Police Department and a vacant laborer’s position in the Buildings Department.
Town officials on Tuesday still were absorbing Fudoli’s proposal, which he began to distribute early Monday evening. The Town Board – Republican Fudoli and four Democrats – must adopt the budget by Nov. 20.
“It’s still very preliminary. We’ve had it for less than 24 hours. It’s always a large thing to digest,” said Councilman John Abraham Jr.
Going into 2013, the town faces a sharp rise in pension costs, which account for much of the 9.12 percent increase in spending on employee benefits.
Spending on debt service rose nearly 30 percent, to $2.1 million next year, an increase driven by borrowing for the new police and courts building.
The budget would spend $1.1 million from the town’s unreserved fund balances, an increase of 8.6 percent over the $963,735 appropriated in the 2012 budget.
Those funds are estimated to have a total of $5.4 million at the end of 2012.
The town also would spend $350,000 in 2013 from its debt service reserve. This is a pool of money that may only be used to pay down debt, said David J. Brown, the town’s director of administration and finance.
And Fudoli’s budget anticipates that the town will collect an extra $377,000, or 8.4 percent, in sales tax revenue for 2013.
Fudoli proposes to make a number of smaller cuts throughout various departments, highlighted by $15,000 spent annually to send town officials to the state Association of Towns conference in New York City.
While a retiring full-time clerk-typist in the tax receiver’s office would be replaced with a part-time employee, a retiring part-time employee in the Assessor’s Office would be replaced with a full-timer.
Fudoli’s budget would eliminate a position in the Police Department that was funded, but never filled, in the previous year’s budget, and it also anticipates no police retirements in 2013, saving $125,000 in retirement-related payments.
Lancaster Police Chief Gerald J. Gill Jr. and Town Clerk Johanna M. Coleman both said Tuesday afternoon that they couldn’t comment on Fudoli’s budget because they hadn’t had the chance to examine it.
The budget contains no raises for elected officials. Fudoli took a 10 percent pay cut this year – and maintains this lower salary for 2013 – and he continues to decline the $8,122 stipend paid to the town’s budget officer.
Town employees receive only those pay increases required by contract, such as step raises, Brown said. The town continues to negotiate new contracts with its four unions to replace pacts that expired at the end of 2011.
Fudoli said he is optimistic that savings generated by new agreements with town employees, a new contract for disposing of the town’s waste and the sale of the former Colecraft building will further reduce spending.
The tax levy for 2013 would be $20.6 million.
Residents pay a different tax rate depending on where they live. A home in the town outside the villages of Lancaster and Depew assessed at $200,000 would see its total town and special-district tax bill fall $33.49, or 1.9 percent, to $1,732.66.
For a $200,000 home in the Village of Lancaster, the tax bill would fall $27.49, or 2.7 percent, to $989.66 next year. And for a $200,000 home in Depew, the tax bill would rise by $12, or 2.56 percent, to $480, because Depew taxpayers don’t fully benefit from the increase in sales tax revenue received by the town.
The Town Board is expected to hold a public hearing on the budget plan at its Nov. 5 meeting and adopt it Nov. 19.