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Special-district taxes are expected to go down in Amherst next year.

Tax levies -- the amounts to be raised in taxes -- proposed for the town's sanitary sewer, storm sewer and water districts could drop anywhere between 1 to 6 percent next year, Amherst officials said Wednesday.

"The levies are down because we're working to manage our money better," said Amherst Supervisor Susan J. Grelick.

On Wednesday, Amherst Finance Director Maureen P. Cilano filed proposed sanitary sewer, storm sewer and water district budgets that require $19.8 million be raised in taxes next year -- an overall decrease of $1.2 million or 5.8 percent from this year.

Special districts, as they are called, provide sewer, water and street lighting services.

There is no townwide tax rate for the special districts, because tax formulas vary from district to district. So, in the case of sewer and water, homeowners' special-district taxes will differ based on water consumption and where they live. But, under next year's proposal, many Amherst residents could see a lower bill for these services.

The largest special district expense is for maintenance of sewer lines and operation of the town's wastewater treatment plant on Tonawanda Creek Road.

The sanitary sewer districts require a total of $15 million be raised in taxes next year, down about $1 million, or 6 percent, from this year.

The drop mostly is due to slashing $700,000 from the town's wastewater treatment plant budget, Mrs. Cilano said.

Amherst projects lower utility costs at the facility next year and a decrease in costs to landfill sludge from its pellet plant. Amherst also intends to use about $325,000 in budget surplus to help lower the tax levy, Mrs. Cilano added.

Meanwhile, the amount of taxes needed to be raised for storm sewer districts -- for drainage work and repairs -- would drop $187,000, or 5 percent, to $3.7 million next year, according to the submitted proposal.

The drop is a result of delaying equipment purchases and better than expected interest earnings, Mrs. Cilano explained. Amherst also plans to use $100,000 from surplus to lower the tax levy.

As for water districts, tax levy totals will drop about $13,000, or 1.2 percent, to $1.04 million. That is due to the town retiring debt from previous water line projects, Mrs Cilano said.

The special district budgets are just a piece of Amherst's annual spending plan.

Ms. Grelick on Sept. 30 will submit a general fund budget, which does have a townwide tax rate and funds most town services such as police and recreation.

At that time, she also will submit figures for garbage-collection rates and the amount to be raised in taxes for town lighting districts.

A public hearing on both the general fund and special district budgets will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 4 at Amherst Town Hall.

The entire Town Board will sift through the budgets, probably make cuts or changes and eventually vote on the spending plans.

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