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Tax relief sought for low income levels

Raising the income level by 10 percent for Newstead's low- and fixed-income residents to qualify for property tax exemptions was a prime topic of discussion during Monday's Town Board work session.

While the five-member board agreed that the 3-year-old current exemption limits should be increased, the board at first was not sure what tack to take: base the percentage on the rise in the town's total assessed value over the last three years or on how much the property tax rate has risen in the same time period.

After quite a bit of discussion, the board informally agreed to the 10 percent rise for all income levels, based on household size. For example, a family of one could see the income level to qualify for an exemption rise to $16,500 from the current $15,000.

Final action may come during a regular Town Board meeting in August. Another work session, in which no votes are taken, is set for 7:30 p.m. Monday in Town Hall. The next regular meeting is Aug. 13.

In other business, the board:

* Agreed that it wants to keep the term of the appointed part-time town assessor at six years, but will hold further discussions in executive session. A decision is expected by the end of September.

Supervisor David L. Cummings, who surveyed several other towns in Erie, Niagara and Genesee counties, reported that most have a full-time appointed assessor who serves six years. But some towns with smaller populations either have a part-time appointed assessor, who may do work for more than one town, or a three-member elected board of assessment.

The Town Board appeared to agree with Councilman Mark J. Decker that it does not want an elected assessor. He said there likely would be a change in the assessor in any election after a property revaluation. "And then we would have to go through training a new person," Cummings said.

* Was updated by Planning Board Chairman Tom Cowan on the status of Stan Tatara's plans for a 28-lot subdivision on Havens Road, which is being done in two phases. One house is already under construction at the corner of Stage Road in the 10-lot first phase of the development.

Cowan said the Planning Board has expressed concern over the costs associated with extension of a waterline that will serve the new development that might eventually have to run as far as the end of Havens Road at Route 5.

Rob Klavoon of Wendel Duchscherer, town engineers, said the usual procedure is to have the developer post a bond covering the expense. He said the bond could be based on whichever is the higher cost: looping the line up a new road that will end in a cul-de-sac or carrying it as far as Route 5, where it would be hooked into an existing waterline.

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