The Elma Town Board this week adopted a $7.3 million budget that includes across-the-board salary hikes, projects additional sales tax revenue and reduces the tax rate for special districts while raising it for fire protection.
Board members approved the plan Wednesday night after a public hearing at which no one spoke.
To lower tax rates, the board added $64,920 to sales tax revenue estimates, bringing the total to a little more than $1.9 million. The board used some of this to lower tax rates in the highway, lighting and water districts a total of 18 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.
The highway tax rate is $4.70, down 2 cents from 2012 and down 7 cents from the tentative budget. It would raise $251,340.
The water budget tax rate is 61 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, down 12 cents from 2012. It would raise $34,953.
The lighting budget tax rate is 52 cents, down 4 cents from this year on a levy of $32,187.
The fire protection district comprises the companies of Jamison, Blossom and Elma and will have a tax rate of $18,32 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, up 42 cents, the same as in the tentative budget.
It’s the only area of the budget that will realize a tax increase. It will raise $755,013.
The district provides fire protection for two-thirds of the town. The Spring Brook Fire District makes its own budget and sets its own tax rates.
The budget includes a 3 percent salary increase across the board, with a cap of 50 cents an hour or $1,040.
According to Supervisor Dennis Powers, the special district taxes went down a total 25 percent.
Powers said the town will continue to focus on infrastructure and dedicate funding to road projects.
No major capital improvement projects are planned for 2013 due to the economic downturn. This could change if federal stimulus money becomes available.
Councilman Michael Nolan, who worked on the budget with Powers, called it “a financial plan for the future. The town has no debt and doesn’t owe one cent to anyone.”
He credited town residents with being the type who “ask what they can do for the town, not what can the town do for me,” and cited their willingness to volunteer to coach sports and “drive to the transfer station rather than have garbage pickup” as examples of ways they help keep costs down.
There are no town property taxes in Elma, as revenues offset expenditures for the general fund which supports town buildings, salaries, insurance, the retirement plan and employee benefits.