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$7.2 MILLION BUDGET OK SPELLS DROP IN TAX RATES

The Town Board voted, 4-0, Thursday afternoon to adopt a 2005 budget of $7.2 million, a reduction of 0.41 percent from this year's plan. Homeowners will see an average tax decrease of $33.

Supervisor Steven C. Richards said homestead taxpayers will pay $5.07 per $1,000 of assessed evaluation, a reduction of 6.5 percent from 2004.

Nonhomestead taxpayers will pay 4.5 percent less than they did in 2004, he said. The new tax rate for those property owners will be $7.30.

"That should save the average business about $40 a year," Richards said.

The town will collect $87,764 less in taxes next year. That is because the town has been reducing long-term debt, the supervisor said

"We're doing our job working for the taxpayers," said Councilman Michael J. Ross. He said the Town Board gave everyone who works for the town a 2 percent raise.

But he said the board's job of keeping taxes down here doesn't seem to matter.

"Even though there's no tax increase in the town, the county's going to raise the taxes so the people never see it," said Ross.

Niagara County taxpayers may be shelling out 9 percent more in taxes for 2005, with talk of a higher sales tax as well. Even then, officials in the county predict the need to cut services and idle as many as 200 county workers.

Councilman Wallace W. Blake Jr. was absent from the special meeting held in Town Hall.

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