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Few questions raised on town budget

A public hearing on the proposed $4.03 million budget for next year drew few speakers at Monday's Newstead Town Board meeting.

The two who did comment raised questions about the town's plans for a joint public works facility with the Village of Akron.

Peter Henley, who wanted to sell the former Northeast Caisson site on Indian Falls Road for conversion into the complex, wanted to know if the budget contained any funds for the project and if so how much.

Supervisor David Cummings said the project has been in the town budget for a number of years and that next year's proposed spending plan calls for putting aside about $16,000. He noted that most of the project, estimated at $3.5 million, would be financed with bonds with maturities of as long as 40 years.

In response to a question from Greg Papke, a town businessman, Town Attorney Nathan Neill said petitions could be circulated seeking a referendum on bonding for the project.

Henley rejected an offer of $1.1 million for his property, based on adding 25 percent to an appraisal of $920,000. He made a counteroffer of $1.6 million.

He and Papke argue that the cost of a new building could reach $5 million. Estimates, they contend, do not reflect so-called soft costs such as architectural and engineering services or the cost of acquiring a site.

The Town Board voted Monday to authorize the supervisor to join Akron Mayor Carl Patterson in price negotiations for "alternative sites" for the complex, which then would have to be approved by the Village and Town boards.

Both municipalities had considered town-owned land on Buell Street, but several residents have voiced objections because the route is the main entrance to the town and village, as well as adjacent to the town park.

Officials have not specified any alternate sites, but sources have said one is located in the vicinity of Hake Road, not far from Town Hall.

No increase is projected in the general town tax rate of $1.32 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The fire district tax would rise to $1.15 per $1,000, from $1.07. The yearly rate for refuse collection would be $185.04, up from $179.45.

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