ADVERTISEMENT

Hamburg Town Board members adopted the 2013 budget Monday night that raises taxes 3.79 percent but does not go above the tax cap.

The owner of a $100,000 home living outside the villages will see a $35 increase in general and highway fund taxes next year.

The $42.16 million budget is unchanged from the one presented at the public hearing Oct. 22, and passed with a 2-1 vote. Councilman Joseph Collins voted against the budget, saying, when asked by a resident about his vote, “I can’t, in good conscience, vote for a tax increase.”

“If only it were that simple,” Supervisor Steven J. Walters said.

Board members tussled over cuts Collins proposed in the work session immediately before the meeting. Walters said Collins gave him the cuts Friday afternoon. Collins said he wanted to talk to Walters about whether the cuts would be possible.

“I thought we were working together,” Collins said. “We need to cut.”

Walters criticized many of the proposed cuts, including the elimination of highway equipment, 25 percent of the paving and bridge repair budgets, 80 percent of property maintenance budget and the reduction of the road salt budget by $170,000.

“We live in Buffalo,” Walters said.

Highway Superintendent Tom Best was more direct.

“Unless your name is Jesus Christ, you can’t cut any of that salt money. Nobody knows [what the weather will be],” Best said.

Some of the cuts targeted areas that have been the subject of controversy, such as eliminating funding for outside lawyers, public relations and marketing, and human resources consultant Brian Doyle.

“Taxpayers are going to have tax increases because we don’t want to cut,” Collins said.

But Walters accused Collins of making the proposal for cuts he knew would not be approved to gain publicity.

“You wanted to wave around $1.2 million in cuts that are irresponsible,” Walters said. He also said he was dismayed that Collins presented the cuts at the 11th hour and not during the two budget meetings or the budget hearing.

Councilwoman Amy Ziegler said she was handed the proposal Monday afternoon, and Collins said he wanted feedback from the supervisor, who is the budget officer, on whether the cuts would be feasible.

Collins asked if there was any way to make more cuts to the budget than the $190,000 in reductions already made, and Walters said it was not possible without reducing services.

“You have to choose tax increases or reductions in services,” Walters said.

Collins withdrew the proposed cuts in the work session, and they were not discussed during the regular meeting.

The general and highway fund tax rates for residents of the villages of Hamburg and Blasdell are $4.30 per $1,000 of assessed value, up 3.86 percent. The tax rate for those living outside the villages is $9.54 per $1,000, up 3.84 percent.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com