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Taxes in towns would decrease under '09 plans

Taxpayers in Hamburg and Evans would see decreases in their town taxes -- to varying degrees -- under proposed 2009 budgets filed Tuesday.

Hamburg's proposed $39.8 million budget holds the line at a tax rate of $8.99 per $1,000 of assessed value, outside of villages, a drop of less than one-tenth of 1 percent. The village rate is $4.04 per $1,000.

Decreases in debt service and other savings were able to cancel out higher prices for fuel and supplies.

"The highway budget is in the worst shape, because of the cost of petroleum," Supervisor Steven J. Walters said. The Highway Department saw a 60 percent increase in cost for fuel, salt and equipment.

The budget draws down fund balances by $900,000, Walters' budget letter to the Town Board states. That is $720,000 less than the amount tapped from fund balances in the current year's budget, he said.

Included in 2009 spending is the first installment of improvements to town water systems, in preparation of their takeover by the Erie County Water Authority, Walters' letter said.

In Evans, Supervisor Francis J. Pordum filed a preliminary budget that cuts the general fund tax rate to $7.07 per $1,000 of assessed value, from $11.97.

To achieve savings, the town cut the number of seasonal workers and left some jobs unfilled, Pordum said.

His budget letter to the Town Board estimates that 70 percent of town residents would see their overall town taxes decrease.

The tax-rate reduction was accomplished without dipping into existing fund balances, he said.

The budget comes amid backlash at the town's property revaluation, which has prompted heated criticism at recent board meetings. Some residents said their assessed value has risen unjustifiably, and have called for the revaluation to be thrown out.

Pordum said that the revaluation, handled by an outside consulting firm, did not yield an overall increase in tax revenue.

About 12 percent of property owners have filed to challenge their assessments, Town Assessor Jeanne Z. Ebersole said.

The final budget is due Nov. 20.

e-mail: fwilliams@buffnews.com

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