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Wheatfield adopts 2017 budget with small cut in tax bills

WHEATFIELD – The Wheatfield Town Board approved a 2017 town budget Monday night, providing a small tax cut for homeowners.

The tax bill for the owner of a house assessed at $125,000 will be $487.22, or 25 cents less than it was this year.

"It's not much of a saving, but it is a saving," Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe said.

Councilman Larry L. Helwig said this is the sixth consecutive budget in which the tax bill was reduced for the typical Wheatfield homeowner.

The town avoided a 2017 tax bill increase by using $1.1 million in surplus funds to balance the budget. The tax levy - the total amount collected in property taxes - is rising by 0.63 percent, narrowly slipping under the state-mandated tax cap, which for Wheatfield this year was 0.68 percent.

Budget Director Edward D. Mongold said the town had $2.2 million in an unappropriated fund balance as of the end of 2015, and he projects a $1.9 million figure will be in hand at the end of this year, even after the use of the $1.1 million in the 2017 budget.

"Where it came from was not spending money when we were in tough times," Cliffe said.

Ward Road resident Shirley Joy questioned the sales tax projections in the budget, calling them "over-optimistic." The budget projects collecting $4.62 million in sales tax in 2017, which is down $66,513 from the 2016 projection. Joy noted that the sales tax figure for the first eight months of the year was only 59 percent of the year's projected total.

Cliffe acknowledged that sales tax revenue is "slightly behind were we were last year. We're hoping to make it up with a good Christmas, which we didn't have last year."

Wheatfield has no general town tax at present, and the property tax bill consists of levies for fire protection, sewer service and garbage collection. Fire protection costs are rising slightly, while the other two components of the tax bill will decrease.

The budget includes 2 percent pay raises for all elected officials. Cliffe will earn $39,608 in 2017. The councilman who is chosen deputy supervisor will be paid $18,287, and the other three councilmen will earn $14,465.

Highway Superintendent Paul A. Siegmann will be paid $69,292; Town Clerk Kathleen M. Harrington-McDonell will earn $65,219; and the two town justices will be paid $25,413 each.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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