Three Niagara County villages hold budget hearings this week - The Buffalo News

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Three Niagara County villages hold budget hearings this week

Three public hearings are slated this week regarding village budgets for 2014-15.

Public hearings are planned for 7 p.m. Monday in both Middleport and Barker, while Youngstown will hold its hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Village of Wilson has set its public hearing date for 7 p.m. April 14.

Middleport’s proposed $1.7 million budget includes a drop in its tax rate for all residents, whether they live in the portion of the village that lies within the Town of Hartland or the Town of Royalton (the vast majority). Residents in the Hartland portion of the village will pay $9.47 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, a 53-cent decrease, while Royalton residents will pay $10.29 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, a two-cent drop, according to the proposed plan.

The reason for the difference is that Hartland’s equalization rate remains at 100 percent, while Royalton is currently undergoing a property reassessment and has a 92 percent equalization rate, village officials explained. Both towns will have a 100 percent equalization rate for next year’s budget, according to Middleport Village Clerk Rebecca Schweigert.

Mayor Richard Westcott noted: “We managed to cut the tax rates for village residents in both towns and still maintain all of our services and provide for some new equipment for our Department of Public Works. Our Village Board and department heads are to be commended for cutting expenses to allow us to do that.”

The proposed budget of $1,706,634 is $13,082 less than the current budget, due to cuts in the water and sewer funds.

“We have not raised water and sewer rates in eight years,” Schweigert noted.

She added that new purchases being considered for the coming year include a utility truck for the Department of Public Works and a police vehicle.

Westcott said, “Overall, for a small village, I think this is a very good budget.”

Following public comment, the board could vote to adopt the tentative budget Monday. The board will also hold its reorganizational meeting after the public hearing.

Barker also will present its tentative $415,432 budget to the public in Village Hall at 7 p.m. Monday.

The budget includes a proposed tax rate hike of 10 cents, to $7.10 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, according to Mayor Aaron Nellist. He said it compensates for the fact that the village lowered the tax rate last year and then had many residents challenge their new property assessments.

“We’re just trying to get as close as we can to what we collected in taxes last year,” he said. “This is a bare-bones budget. It’s pretty straight forward.”

Youngstown’s $1.7 million tentative budget will be presented at 7 p.m. Thursday in Village Hall. It carries a proposed six-cent hike in the tax rate to $6.95 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The budget represents a 1ø percent increase over the current budget, according to Mayor Raleigh Reynolds, which is below the state’s 2 percent tax cap.

“We didn’t use any fund balance, and we are still able to maintain some money for street maintenance,” he said. “We think this is a modest tax increase and a responsible budget.”

For the seventh consecutive year, the mayor’s and trustees’ salaries remain unchanged. The mayor would earn $7,498, the deputy mayor $6,151, and the three trustees would each earn $5,656 in the proposed spending plan.

Reynolds said the public is invited to review a copy of the budget in the Village Clerk’s office.

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