LOCKPORT – The proposed 2014 town budget includes a tiny tax cut that is expected to become slightly larger once changes made at Wednesday’s Town Board work session are factored in.
As presented by Finance Director Kate Carter, the spending plan would reduce the total tax bill by $2.90 on a house assessed at $100,000, which is the average assessment in most of the town. The bill for such a house would be $693.02.
In the Carlisle Gardens subdivision, the reduction on its average $110,000 home would be $3.04, and in the Lincoln Village subdivision, the cut would be $2.05 on its average home, which is assessed at $70,000. Those subdivisions have separate sewer districts, accounting for the difference in taxes.
The draft budget assumed an 8 percent increase in the town’s cost for contributions to the state’s public employee pension fund.
Councilman Paul W. Siejak objected that State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli recently promised municipalities a small cut in next year’s mandated pension contributions.
Carter said the reductions would be 1 percent or less, depending on which of the state’s six retirement tiers the employees are in.
Town Supervisor Marc R. Smith responded, “It would be prudent for us to have a 2 percent increase, to take into account the raises people are getting.”
That was the only change the board has made so far in the draft budget, reducing the general fund by about $13,000, the highway fund by $10,000 and other funds by lesser amounts.
The board scheduled another work session for 1 p.m. next Wednesday to review the spending plan again.
The budget envisions spending $14.8 million, up $475,000 or 3.3 percent from this year’s version. However, the amount to be raised in taxes would rise by less than one-half of 1 percent.
There is no general town tax, and the refuse bill would not be changed. However, the plan calls for a reduction in fire protection taxes and the sewer capital tax, while water taxes and sewer operations and maintenance taxes would rise slightly.
The budget includes 2.5 percent raises for most of the elected officials, except for Highway Superintendent David J. Miller, whose pay will jump from $61,379 to $77,913, which includes a new $10,000 stipend for drainage work, but even the base pay is rising 10.6 percent. “Quite frankly, we low-balled him when we hired him,” Smith said, “He should be paid more in line with other highway superintendents in Niagara County.”
On the drainage issue, Smith said, “We had a lot of major storms. … I’m sure [the stipend] is something we’ll be talking about next year.”
The other elected officials’ salaries will be: Smith, $51,501; Town Clerk Nancy A. Brooks, $51,058; the four councilmen, $9,906 each, with double pay for the one chosen to serve as deputy supervisor next year; and $26,341 each for the two town justices.