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Amherst board adds to Mohan budget Some abolished positions are restored, funds added to senior services, police

Amherst Town Board members approved a long list of amendments to Supervisor Satish Mohan's proposed $115.7 million budget for 2009 that added back both dollars and jobs.

Among the higher-profile changes are the restoration of some positions, including those of laid-off planning director and assistant building commissioner. Money was also restored to senior services and police.

At the start of the meeting, Comptroller Darlene A. Carroll said that, on average, town residents would see a 0.5 percent decrease in their property tax rate.

But after the board approved personnel and police budget restorations, Carroll said she expects the tax rate for residents will actually go up, though she wasn't yet sure by how much.

Mohan's original proposed budget would keep spending flat and reduce the tax levy, the overall amount of money the town needs to raise in taxes. It would use nearly $5.7 million in town savings, or fund balance, compared with $6.5 million in this year's budget.

His budget would raise revenue primarily through higher recreation and permit fees. It also called for the elimination of 25 vacant positions.

Monday, the board approved the following budget amendments:

*The restoration of $282,222 in funding to the Amherst Police Department, including money to restore dispatcher positions and the add-in of $100,000 of overtime, which is still about $55,000 less than what was originally requested.

Chief John Askey said that while he didn't get everything he asked for, he had a very productive discussion with Mohan after meeting with him and Council Member Mark Manna.

"I'm very pleased with the budget," Askey said. "We got some essential things back."

*The restoration of $17,300 to the senior services budget, raising the total budget from $291,500 to $308,800. Mohan and Council Member Barry Weinstein called the restoration of some funds a good "compromise resolution" drawn up after discussion with the senior services director.

The board also approved resolutions by Council Member Shelly Schratz to begin working on department consolidation studies and more flexible employee scheduling to save on personnel costs.


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