It’s something that hasn’t happened in municipal budget circles for some time: Pension costs have gone down, if ever so slightly.
Pension payments required by towns, cities, villages and school districts have risen astronomically in recent years, but Hamburg Supervisor Steven J. Walters filed his proposed 2014 budget Monday, and it includes lower taxes, and a stabilization of retirement costs.
“The retirement actually went down just slightly this year,” said Wayne Drescher, the town’s accounting consultant. “It still is extremely high when you compare it to what the average long-term rates are supposed to be for the retirement system.”
Hamburg was paying $1.3 million in 2009 to the state retirement system for its employees’ pensions. Next year’s proposed budget allots $3.35 million, an increase of more than 150 percent over five years.
“There is still significant, significant room for those rates to come down, and for our budgets to be better off,” Drescher told the Town Board during a work session Monday.
The budget totals $42.58 million, up 1 percent over this year, but the tax levy would go down by one-half of 1 percent, to $23.92 million.
The general and highway fund tax rate for residents living outside the villages would be $9.38 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, down 1.59 percent. Those living in the villages of Hamburg and Blasdell would pay $4.23 per $1,000, down 1.55 percent.
The town also plans to use $112,000 less in appropriated fund balance next year.
While the pension payments continue to be a challenge, the supervisor noted that the state has also reduced payments to the town for the video lottery terminals at the Hamburg Casino. The town is receiving $680,176, although that is more than what it budgeted this year. It received $1.2 million from the state in 2008.
Walters points out that total appropriations next year would be less than 2007, while the town maintains and improves services, such as Woodlawn Beach State Park and Rootie’s Run dog park, and expanding the senior center.
The budget includes funding for operation of the new senior center at the former Frontier Educational Center and improvements to the Hamburg Public Library.
The board scheduled a public hearing at 7 p.m. Oct. 14.