Clarence will aim to reduce its tax rate again in its 2014 budget, while also making quality-of-life improvements this year, Town Supervisor David C. Hartzell Jr. said today.
Town officials are doing a “line-by-line review” of the current budget with the goal of reducing the tax rate for 2014, Hartzell said in his state of the town address. “We will continue to work overtime in 2013 to make Clarence affordable for all the residents.”
The supervisor, who is in his second year in office, highlighted upcoming changes including:
• A new outdoor ice rink, being created by the Parks Department in the back of Meadowlakes Park. The pond is “available for hockey or figure skating to any kid in Clarence with a shovel and a pair of skates.” A second outdoor rink will be at Main Street Town Park.
• Upgrades to the swimming pool at Main Street Town Park that will be made in March, such as a new pool liner, a curvy slide, a lifeguard chair and a handicapped-accessible lift in the deep end of the pool.
• A basketball court, planned for the park outside Town Hall. “It should be going in probably the end of July,” he said.
• Revamping the town’s security force, to maximize coverage during the summer months, especially on bike paths and in town parks. “We have added seven new positions for security officers, and they will either be on foot, on bikes or in golf carts,” he said.
Town planning officials James B. Callahan and Brad Packard also spoke at the State of the Town meeting, which was sponsored by the Clarence Chamber of Commerce at Orazio’s restaurant.
Last year, the town added 112 new residential units, 98 of them within sewered subdivisions and 14 outside of sewered subdivisions, said Callahan, director of community development. The 112 units was up sharply from 70 in 2011, and generated about $36 million worth of new assessed valuation, said Packard, assistant director of community development.
Callahan said the town favors a “balanced growth” approach: “We want to grow residentially, but not at a rate that’s going to outpace the provision of services. And that growth should be planned. It shouldn’t be haphazard growth.”
The town’s goal is to concentrate residential development in sewered subdivisions as opposed to relying on septic systems, Packard said.
The town issued seven commercial and industrial building permits last year, with total new assessed valuation of $3.9 million. The highest-value project was a new LA Fitness location, estimated at $1.42 million, in Eastgate Plaza.
Packard noted that more new commercial projects, including Towne Mini and Niagara County Produce, are in the works; “2013 appears as though it’s going to be an excellent year as far as new commercial development is concerned,” he said.