In his farewell address Wednesday as Depew mayor, Michael Rusinek Wednesday asked residents to become more active in the political process, urging them to continue the fight to reduce town taxes paid by village residents.
Rusinek, who lost a re-election bid Tuesday after serving 12 years as a trustee and mayor, said Depew residents weren't angry enough at town officials to force a tax reduction.
"What the towns are doing to our residents with this grossly unfair tax is wrong. It always was wrong. And it must me stopped," he said.
"You're not angry enough yet. And I'm afraid the wrong message may have been sent to the towns. So get angry, folks. And vote against those in the towns that won't support you on this issue."
The mayor began a campaign two years ago to change the process of how village residents were taxed by the Towns of Cheektowaga and Lancaster.
Rusinek maintained that the town tax rates did not match the services the village was receiving. His most recent efforts included helping write legislation on the subject that may be introduced in the State Assembly and Senate this year.
Rusinek concluded his address by noting that the village was being left a $500,000 surplus and no property tax increase in a proposed 1995-96 budget. "We leave this village government much better than when we found it," he said.
This was also the last meeting for Trustees Norman Downey and Robert Meyer, also of the Depew Independent Progressive Party. Downey, whose service to the village spanned 22 years, announced his retirement from politics earlier in the year. Meyer, who served on the board for 12 years, was unsuccessful Tuesday in seeking his fourth four-year term.
In other business, the board scheduled a public hearing on the 1995-96 village budget for 8 p.m. April 3 in the Municipal Building on Manitou Street.
The board also agreed to allow the newly elected board to decide on whether to further investigate a study on abolishing the village's assessor's office. Bids from accounting firms ranged from $3,250 to $9,000 for a detailed analysis of a village study presented to residents on February 6.
The study became the focus of the March election with the Depew Action Party maintaining that abolishing the office would save money. Rusinek and Meyer said allowing the towns to serve as assessors would increase property taxes by shifting the tax burden most likely from railroads and utility companies to homeowners.