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The Orchard Park Town Board passed its 2005 budget Wednesday, approving a spending plan with only one change from the version Supervisor Toni Cudney originally presented.

The budget cut tax rates by about 1 percent for town residents outside of the Village of Orchard Park. Village residents will see their tax rates go up 1.7 percent.

The budget did not include changes proposed by Councilman John Mills that would have cut the tax rates further by using projected increases in the town's sales tax income.

"The majority of the board decided to hold the line and not reduce it anymore," said Mills. "I would rather reduce it, but I didn't have the votes to do it."

The budget sets the tax rate for general fund and highway taxes at $4.75 per $1,000 assessed valuation outside of the village and $4.96 inside it. With the average home in Orchard Park projected to be assessed at $140,000, that would be a total of $670 in property taxes, a cut of $7 from last year.

Residents also pay varying special district taxes for services such as lighting, water and sewer, depending on where they live in town.

The one change the board did make in the budget was cutting $10,000 that would have gone to the town and village economic development committee.

"Over the last couple of years they've built up a little surplus," said Councilman Dave Kaczor. "With the balance they currently have, they can move forward on a number of projects. We support them 100 percent, but we didn't feel the need to do it because we've always done it."

The board approved the final year of a five-year contract to plow county roads in the town. Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra had said he was reconsidering the contracts in light of the county's financial problems, but he backed off that, Cudney said.

"They said they were not going to renege," Cudney said. "The rate increases. It had an escalation clause.

"But this year the county would have been crazy at the lane-mile price they have to try to take that over, with the escalating price of gas," the supervisor added. "And salt has gone way up, too."


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