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VILLAGE BOARD SEEKS RESIDENTS' INPUT TODAY ON BUDGET PROPOSAL TO HIKE TAXES 1.8%

The Lancaster Village Board will be looking for taxpayer input today on a tentative 2005-06 budget of $5.2 million prepared by Mayor William G. Cansdale.

Under the plan, village property taxes would rise 1.8 percent, to $12.19 per $1,000 of assessed valuation from the current rate of $11.99. For the owner of a home assessed at $100,000, the taxes would be $1,219, or a $20 increase from the current bill.

"I think it's a very sound spending plan, though the (Village) Board may end up shifting some accounts to determine what kind of spending may be appropriate for public works, fire and street repairs," Cansdale said.

The property tax rate increase in the village has totaled about 25 percent over the past three years, with taxpayers experiencing a nearly 8 percent increase this year compared to a nearly 10.5 percent decrease in 2003-2004.

That followed a merger of the village police force with the Town of Lancaster Police Department. However, $2.4 million in transitional costs for the merger -- including unused sick benefits, retirements and buyouts -- prevented taxpayers from seeing another decrease right away, Cansdale said.

The same year as the police merger, the Erie County Water Authority took over water services in the village to reduce costs.

Cansdale blamed the increase in the tentative plan mostly on contractual costs and a nearly $25,000 increase in hospital and medical insurance.

Today's meeting gets under way at 8 p.m. in the Village Hall. Following the public hearing, the Village Board is expected to adopt a final budget.

Cansdale, who was re-elected to another four-year term earlier this month, said he hopes to be more consistent with future budget proposals.

"My focus is on keeping the tax increase between 0 and 3 percent," he said.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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