Officials in three of Niagara County's five villages will hear from the public this week about how to spend their money.
Public hearings on tentative 2012-13 budgets for the villages of Barker, Wilson and Middleport are planned for Monday.
The Youngstown Village Board will hold a public hearing on its tentative budget at 7 p.m. April 12 in the board's meeting room in Village Hall, 240 Lockport St.
Lewiston village officials are working on a budget for the fiscal year beginning June 1. A public hearing on the budget will be held April 18. The deadline for budget adoption is May 1.
The Barker Village Board will present its tentative budget at 7 p.m. Monday in Village Hall, 8708 Main St., to be followed by a reorganizational meeting. The proposed tax rate remains steady at $8 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Barker's tentative $1.3 million budget is inflated by a proposed $1 million capital budget for Phase II of its project to replace antiquated water lines.
The Village Board hopes to open bids and award a contract in May to replace water lines on Quaker Road, Woodward Avenue and Main and Church streets. A bond resolution for the project was approved by permissive referendum after a public hearing last May, and the board expects to take out a 38-year loan to complete the work. The village received a $743,491 federal grant administered through the state in February 2009 to complete Phase I of the project.
In Barker's tentative $1.37 million spending plan, its general and water funds of $351,874 actually dropped about $40,000, which was attributed to the decrease in the village police budget.
The Town of Somerset voted in January to end its contract for village police services to pursue its own constable force. Last year, Somerset contributed about $40,000 for village police coverage in the town. The new arrangement cut the Barker police budget nearly in half, according to Police Chief W. Ross Annable.
"We've dropped from providing about 80 hours of coverage to about 40 per week," said Annable, adding that he schedules coverage around special needs in the community.
Mayor Herbert Meyer said the board "did everything we could to maintain the village budget but not raise taxes. We had no major buys to worry about this year, no major vehicles. We're hoping for state grant money to help with some street and sidewalk repair, so as not to burden the taxpayer."
The Wilson Village Board has set a public hearing for 7 p.m. Monday on its tentative $1.2 million budget. The meeting will be held in Village Hall, 375 Lake St. Village officials expect a tax rate decrease of 15 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, to $7.37. A reorganizational meeting will immediately follow, with newly elected Trustee Gerard Kadryna taking office.
"We have been trying hard to watch things very closely," said Mayor Patrick Kelahan. "We have had an increase in sales tax revenue, and we have had specific savings from having the firemen's incentive program reconfigured into an assessed valuation through the town budget. This had previously been paid as a village budget line item."
"Our department heads have watched our spending very closely, and we have operated with prudent financial management," he added. "We wanted to make sure we met the 2 percent [state] tax cap, and we were well within it."
The board held a public hearing on its proposed sewer budget last month and is keeping the sewer rate steady at $8 per 1,000 gallons. Its water rate will also remain the same, at $3.15 per 1,000 gallons.
Middleport will also hold a public hearing on its tentative $1.7 million budget as part of its reorganizational meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, in Village Hall, 24 Main St.
Because Middleport falls into two townships with different property equalization rates -- Royalton and Hartland -- tax rates can differ by address. The Town of Hartland has a 100 percent equalization rate, so the "full value tax rate" of $9.86 per $1,000 of assessed value means those with village addresses -- fewer than 100 homes -- in Hartland will see a drop of $1.01 from $10.87 per $1,000 of assessed value in the proposed budget.
Royalton has a 97 percent equalization rate, so those with village addresses that lie within the Royalton boundaries will see their tax rate rise to $10.16 per $1,000 of assessed value -- a 30 cent increase.
The tax bills for residents living in similarly valued homes in both communities would be the same, regardless of the different rates.
Middleport is proposing a 1.8 percent tax levy increase due to changes in the assessments and equalization rates for the towns, which is within the 2-percent tax cap imposed by the state on the overall tax levy.
"It was a challenge this year to stay within the state guidelines with the 2 percent tax levy, but I'm pretty proud of what we were able to accomplish," said Mayor Richard Westcott. "We've been trying to keep our services and make some improvements without raising taxes. The only tax increase is due to the equalization rate."
The three village boards must adopt their budgets by May 1.