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The 1997 tentative budget underwent a handful of minor changes Tuesday as the Town Board made preparations for a public hearing next month.

The $6,998,660 budget, which must be approved before the end of November, was reviewed by Deputy Supervisor Kenneth Retzlaff and the councilmen during a two-hour session that saw several modifications but no major moves that would result in a significant financial impact to property owners.

As there is no general town tax in Wheatfield, the budget changes affected only those special district charges such as sewer and water that are billed to property owners.

The most significant rate change is in the Sewer Department where the rate for sewer users is expected to go up about 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation to about $2.08. The non-user rate is expected to stay the same at 50 cents per $1,000.

Other charges also will show slight decreases, according to the budget figures.

Announced this summer, one of the largest savings for homeowners would come with the decrease in the refuse collection charge. The cost per unit is expected to go down about $47 per home to $92. This was attributed to savings in contract negotiations and increased revenues from the sale of recyclable waste.

All town personnel including department heads and hourly employees would receive a 2.5 percent pay hike in the budget. This raise also includes all elected officials except for Supervisor Timothy E. Demler who has requested no pay hike.

The other exclusions are part-time clerks and some seasonal recreation positions that would receive a 25-cent-an-hour increase.

Councilman James Grawe was the only one to vote against the pay increase. He said he favored a flat raise across the board to be fair to all positions.

Among other budget moves, the board:

Increased its contribution to the North Tonawanda Public and Sanborn libraries by 2.5 percent. In 1996, Sanborn received $11,000 and North Tonawanda, $9,500 from the town.

Added $3,848 to personnel allotments for the town justices office to increase the clerks' pay. The board stipulated that the work an extra four hours a week so the office could be open on Fridays.

Decreased the supervisor's contractual expenses to $8,500 from the requested $10,000.

Increased the amount spent for auditing and accounting of town finances from $15,000 to $30,900.

Retzlaff noted that changes still could be made to the budget which will be the subject of a public hearing at 7 p.m., Nov. 4 in the Town Hall.

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