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Town of Niagara debates fees, water and sewer charges for 2017

TOWN OF NIAGARA – Fee hikes for water and sewer charges and use of the community center were reviewed Wednesday during a work session of the Town Board.

Minimal increases for water and sewer use have been recommended to cover operation and maintenance costs, according to the officials.

Users who consume 9,000 to 30,000 gallons would pay $2.50 per 1,000 gallons for water and $3.05 per 1,000 gallons for sewer. Those using 31,000 to 49,000 gallons of water and sewer would pay $2.55 and $3.40 per 1,000 gallons, respectively. Any using 150,000 and more would be charged $2.75 for water and $3.85 for sewer.

Town Clerk Sylvia Virtuoso said the increases amount to just 5 to 10 cents per 1,000 gallons.

Councilman Richard Sirianni said he is concerned how the increases would impact elderly households. Users of 8,000 gallons or less, the  majority of elderly homeowners, would not face an increase but would pay the same flat rates of $10 for water and $20 for sewer, Supervisor Lee Wallace said.

Wallace also said it is time for the town to begin charging competitive rates for the use of the community center at Veterans Memorial Community Park. The cost for using similar facilities in other municipalities or commercial venues is  much higher than the rate the Recreation Department has recommended, he added.

Under the proposal,, residents would be charged $40 an hour for the use of the center with a security deposit of $150. The current rate is  $25 an hour. The increase is needed to pay for maintenance personnel at the center, officials said.

Non-residents would pay $60 an hour for use of the center, which is double the fee they pay this year, with a $150 deposit.

The new schedule keeps the same $50 rate for residents to use baseball diamonds, with no charge to use a park pavilion. There  are $100 deposits in either case.

Non-residents would have to pay $75 for use of the diamonds, an increase of $20. Cost for non-residents to use a pavilion would stay the same at $75 or $125, depending on the pavilion reserved. Diamonds and pavilions would require a $100 security deposit.

The board also is expected to approve an increase in the annual income limits for elderly property owners to qualify for tax exemptions.
Town Attorney Michael Risman said the current income limit is  $18,000 per household on  a sliding scale. Households with an income of less than $21,000 would be granted a 50 percent exemption on town property taxes.

The schedule reduces the exemptions for various incomes,  with a maximum of $28,499.99 a year to qualify. He said the new schedule mirrors the one used by Niagara County.

The new rates, which are expected to be approved  Tuesday, Dec. 13,  would take effect in 2017.

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