LEWISTON – The Town Board does not intend to increase property taxes for the coming year, but it wants permission to exceed the state-mandated cap on taxes just in case some unexpected but unavoidable expense comes up.
Town Supervisor Steven L. Reiter said flatly, “There will be no local tax increase for 2013.”
Reiter reminded board members Monday that Lewiston is in the enviable position of having no general town tax, but it does have taxes for certain special districts including water, fire protection and refuse collection. The combined taxes for those special districts are subject to the state limit of 2 percent in tax increases in any one year.
Reiter said payments in lieu of taxes from public agencies such as the New York Power Authority and the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, and fees collected from refuse disposal companies in the town, along with other revenues, are enough to pay for general town operations with no need for a local property tax.
Finance Director Michael A. Johnson recommended, however, that the town get permission to exceed the 2 percent tax-increase cap “just as a hedge against future costs, but we do not actually intend to exceed that amount.”
He said labor contracts have yet to be negotiated with unionized members of the police, highway and water departments, which he estimated could result in raises of up to 3 percent. He said town officials are trying to offset any increase in expenses by carefully controlling the cost of health insurance premiums and workers’ compensation payments for town employees.
“Expenses keep going up, but our revenues are uncertain,” he said as he recommended a total budget of $16.6 million for the coming year, up from this year’s budget of $15.6 million.
Tax rates for the special districts have yet to be calculated because the finance director’s recommendations are preliminary estimates still subject to amendment and adoption by the Town Board.
Two residents spoke against the proposal to exceed the budget cap, if necessary. Action on that issue was tabled until the town’s public hearing on the budget at 6 p.m. Nov. 1 in the Town Hall, 1375 Ridge Road.
In other action, the board unanimously adopted an anti-noise ordinance that basically prohibits any loud noises that disturb neighboring residents during certain hours. For example, commercial establishments will not be allowed to play music that can be heard next door after 11 p.m. or before 7 a.m. Penalties will range from $100 or more for a first offense, to $500 or more and up to 15 days in jail for a third offense.