Lancaster town residents would see a second consecutive year of tax decreases under the 2014 budget proposal of $31.3 million by Supervisor Dino J. Fudoli. Taxes would drop despite a 2 percent spending increase largely tied to debt service for the town’s new police and courts facility.
The budget from Fudoli, the lone Republican on a Democratic-controlled Town Board, does not cut any programs or services, though it would reduce a position in the tax receiver’s office from full-time to part-time. That proved to be a contentious issue last year.
“It’s a sensible budget. There’s no extra fluff in there,” Fudoli said in an interview, noting that he asked department heads to hold the line on spending and they complied. “I asked them to submit budgets with needs, instead of wants.”
“The budget is going down two years in a row, for the first time in 20 years,” Fudoli said.
Modest growth in the town is helping to lower the overall tax burden thanks to increased revenue from new property assessments.
Total townwide assessments, including both villages, increased by $34.5 million this year.
The budget plan calls for three sets of tax projections, depending on where residents live: within the Village of Lancaster, within the Village of Depew, or in the town outside the two villages.
Town residents living outside either village would pay about $917.66 in taxes on a home assessed at $100,000 – a nearly 3 percent drop from the current year, or about a $28 decrease on a tax bill.
Homeowners in the Village of Lancaster are projected to see a 5.05 percent drop in their taxes – equivalent to a nearly $29 decrease in their tax bill on a home assessed at $100,000, with a tax bill of about $544.66 for next year.
However, Village of Depew residents would see a very slight increase – $2 on their town tax bill – on a home assessed at $100,000, with the 0.83 percent increase bringing the town tax bill to $243. The increase for Depew residents is tied to a state requirement that Depew help fund the new police and court building to open soon on Pavement Road in Lancaster, even though Depew has its own police force.
Depew’s slight tax increase also is linked to $1.3 million in bonding approved last year for culvert repairs on Grant Street and Olmstead Avenue, as well as other areas.
Overall, the town’s $31.3 million budget calls for $622,172 in additional spending over the current year. The bulk of that is due to more than $500,000 in debt service to build the new police and courts facility.
It was not clear where the extra money would come from.
The spending plan, however, calls for a reduced tax levy. The town will support its budget by raising $20.4 million in property taxes, representing a 1 percent or $209,814 reduction.
The drop in the tax levy, the amount raised through property taxes, was in part due to renegotiated contracts with the town’s waste disposal provider, reducing the per tonnage fee to $30 from $54. Additionally, the town’s sale of its Colecraft Building is close to finalizing, which means the sale proceeds would handle the bond payment remaining on the building. The town must put money into a mandatory debt surrender fund.
The staff position in the tax receiver’s office that is in question should be a part-time job, instead of the $41,117 that it pays, Fudoli said.
“We do not need that much staff in the tax receiver’s office. It’s a patronage job,” he said, noting that the board majority last year decided to return the position to full-time.
The budget must be adopted by Nov. 20. A public hearing is likely to be set for Nov. 4, with a board vote expected Nov. 18.