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Rising costs for police protection mean 48% tax hike

Increasing police costs will mean a 48 percent tax rate increase for Town of Aurora residents who live outside the Village of East Aurora, while town taxes will increase 3.3 percent for those living within the village under the townwide general fund.

Despite the larger tax hit projected under the town's 2008 tentative budget for those residents not in the village, town leaders point out that on average, it will amount to a $46 larger tax bill to fund those increased police costs.

"This is not a cost we have any control over," Supervisor Terence Yarnall said in his budget message this week for the two-part budget.

The Town Board is expected to vote on the budget proposal Tuesday. The spending plan totals $2.62 million in the general fund and $1.16 million for the budget governing the town outside the village.

"We expected a tax increase and anticipated the police cost increase," said Yarnall, who is overseeing his last budget as supervisor. "We're fortunate to have our own police. That's the cost of having our own police force. No one is complaining."

Escalating police costs -- for which the town contracts with the village -- again became a contentious issue this year between the town and village before an agreement was reached that calls for significantly increasing the town's portion of police funding over the next three years.

Overall, Yarnall termed the general fund budget a responsible one that is far less than department funding requests, which came in at $400,000 more than the current budget.

"I think it's a good budget. We started with $400,000 more, and we brought it down to a 3.3 percent tax increase in the general fund," he said. "We kept a tight budget and held the line on spending."

The tax rate for the town outside the village would rise to $1.40 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, up from 94 cents. The part-town fund is where residents pay for the cost of the town's share of police services.

Town residents outside the village also pay various district charges for items such as garbage collection, lighting and fire protection.

There is no projected spending increase in the townwide general fund, covering those living in the village. Their tentative tax increase is 3.3 percent -- rising to $2.76 per $1,000 of assessed valuation from the current $2.52 rate. Spending in the general fund is not expected to increase.

Highway funding saw a 13 percent spending increase and a tax rate increase of 5.5 percent -- largely due to the purchase of a new dump truck.

For the third consecutive year, the town councilmen and supervisor opted to forgo pay raises, leaving council salaries at $10,975 each and $35,902 for the supervisor.

The town has proposed raising the town clerk's salary by 12 percent to bring it to $49,000 and make it more in line with pay for other positions. Town justices, highway superintendent and tax receiver each would be in line for 3 percent raises.

Contract negotiations are still ongoing for the town's unionized workers, although most non-union and full-time elected workers are budgeted to receive a 3 percent raise.

e-mail: krobinson@buffnews.com

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