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Small tax hike, raises for Lancaster town officials proposed in budget

Town of Lancaster elected officials would see pay raises for the first time in five years under a $32.27 million tentative 2017 budget that calls for a minimal property tax hike across the town and a slight tax decrease for Depew village residents.

The tax impact on residents outside the villages of Lancaster and Depew would be minimal.

On a home outside the villages assessed at $100,000, residents would face a $3.45 increase, or .38 percent, on their tax bills. The average tax bill would be about $910.20, including special district charges for items such as water and garbage service.

On a home assessed at $100,000 in the village of Lancaster, a resident would face a town tax bill of $533.20, reflecting a $3.45 or .65 percent increase.

The average tax bill on houses in Depew would drop by $1, or .40 percent, to $246. The town does not provide police service or garbage pickup to Depew residents.

The town’s nine elected officials are in line for 2 percent pay raises, brining the supervisor’s salary to $68,337. The four council members each would be paid $19,354. The two town justices would each make $42,722, while the town clerk would earn $85,692. The highway superintendent’s pay would rise to $81,742.

Pay raises of 2 percent are included for about 10 to 12 non-union employees, closely mirroring pay raises provided for more than 60 unionized workers under new contracts approved Monday by the Town Board.

Under Johanna M. Coleman’s first budget proposal as supervisor, spending would increase by 1.23 percent or $393,877 over 2016 and the tax levy would rise by nearly 3 percent.

The proposed budget is under the town’s tax cap by $21,096. The narrow window has town leaders leaning toward taking the required steps to override the tax cap this fall.

“Given the fact we’re $21,096 under the tax cap, it’s just irresponsible not to plan for the eventuality that something could occur,” Coleman said. “You never know what might happen during the year.”

The budget plan relies substantially less on fund balance, or savings, than previously. There area no cuts planned in town services or programming.

However, the town allocated $25,000 for a part-time recreation director and this week it hired Kevin Kelleher in a temporary appointment through Dec. 1.

Coleman’s budget looks to restructure the Dog Control Department, but little is being divulged about that. Coleman declined to elaborate Thursday, saying she needs to first meet individually with assistant dog control officers.

“This would make it more efficient and more friendly to dogs and dog owners, and just make it work better,” Coleman said. “We’re not going to cut corners so that we’re incapable of providing the service that really needs to be provided when it comes to dogs.”

Public hearings on the budget are planned for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 1 at Town Hall, 21 Central Ave. The board plans to adopt a final budget on Nov. 7. One must be in place by Nov. 20 per state law.

email: krobinson@buffnews.com

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