Town of Evans taxpayers will see a slight increase in their tax bills next year and can expect their water rates to take a jump, as well.
But first, the town has to get through this fiscal year.
The Town Board this week unveiled its preliminary budget for 2013, but also has agreed to borrow $1.1 million to help keep town operations running for the rest of this year until some much-needed sales tax and water revenue comes in.
A combination of costly debt incurred by a multi-million dollar water project and water rates that aren’t high enough to support the increased expense of operations is a big reason for the shortfall in cash, explained Scott P. Dill, an accountant with Johnson, Mackowiak & Associates, the Fredonia firm serving as the town’s financial consultant.
Evans needs to borrow $700,000 to keep water operations afloat.
Likewise, the town will borrow $400,000 against fourth-quarter sales tax revenue it is expected to receive in January, so that it can help pay for highway operations the rest of the year, Dill said. Normally, municipalities might use reserve funds to get through the rest of the year, but the cash-strapped town doesn’t have any set aside.
Town officials used similar short-term financing to keep operating last year, borrowing $2.1 million which already has been paid back.
Meanwhile, the town is preparing a budget for next year with the idea of slowly digging itself out of this financial hole.
Thanks to the cooperation of town departments and the rest of the Town Board, the preliminary 2013 budget “limits spending and minimizes the taxpayer burden – all without diminishing services,” Supervisor Keith E. Dash said.
The tentative spending package totals $15,859,926 for the general, highway, part-town and water funds, as well as special districts. That’s a decrease of $558,000 – or 3 percent – from last year’s budget of $16,417,846, Dill said.
“A lot of that has to do with health insurance – employees going to a larger deductible,” Dill said. “There were a couple of part-time positions eliminated in the 2013 budget. We’re trying to make cuts where we can without jeopardizing services.”
Still, the tax levy for the general fund is expected to go up about $100,000 due to more realistic revenue projections by the town and rising employee retirement costs mandated by the state, Dill explained.
That means the tax rate for the general fund – the largest portion of the budget – will go up 10 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation to $7.56 per $1,000, he said.
The tax rate for the highway fund outside the village will remain at 52 cents per $1,000, the same as last year, while the cost of garbage pickup is expected to go up $1.48 to $160.15.
Meanwhile, water rates will be on the rise to help straighten out the mess with town water operations.
Water rates – which are based on usage and are currently at $5.55 per thousand gallons – are expected to go up anywhere from 50 cents to $1.50 per thousand gallons, under the preliminary budget.
Officials, however, are hoping to keep the increase at 50 cents.