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3 REPUBLICANS CALL FOR GENERAL-FUND TAX CUT

At least two Republicans on the Amherst Town Board believe a general-fund tax cut is possible next year and are calling on the town's Democratic supervisor to make it happen, beginning Tuesday.

GOP Council Members Jane S. Woodward and James P. Hayes, and their Nov. 4 running mate, Robert C. Simmons Friday said "a practical and responsible tax-cut budget" can be achieved by "taking full advantage" of opportunities in seven different areas.

Political observers said the Republicans may be anticipating good news, budgetwise, by the supervisor on Tuesday and were seeking to steal some of her thunder.

The three Republicans made their pitch in a letter to Supervisor Susan J. Grelick, a Democrat who must file her proposed 1998 general town operating budget by Tuesday.

In any case, the supervisor's budget goes to the full Town Board, controlled 4 to 3 by Republicans. The board will have a month to review it and make changes before airing it at a public hearing Nov. 3, the night before the election.

Five of the seven board members are running in the election. The only two who aren't are Democrats.

The board has already pledged not to raise general-fund taxes next year, unanimously adopting a resolution to that effect June 16. However, that measure was sponsored by GOP Council Member William L. Kindel, the party's candidate against Ms. Grelick in November.

Neither Kindel nor his frequent ally on the board, GOP councilman Thomas A. Loughran, was part of the tax-cut request by the three GOP Town Board candidates on Friday.

The three Republicans upped the board's hold-the-line pledge in June, declaring Friday that the town shouldn't settle for holding the line when a general-fund tax cut is possible.

It should be noted, however, that general-fund taxes account for about 60 percent of the townwide tax rate. The current rate of $6.10 per $1,000 of assessed valuation includes a general-fund tax rate of $3.62, with the highway, part-town and central fire-alarm taxes accounting for the remaining $2.48.

In addition there are special district taxes in Amherst, which vary depending on where a person lives in the large town. A special district budget, filed Sept. 15, holds the line on all taxes except in about a third of 188 streetlighting districts where increases are budgeted, some of them hefty.

Ms. Grelick Saturday said the final numbers aren't in yet, but that she expects to submit a spending plan Tuesday that won't raise taxes.

Mrs. Woodward, Hayes and Simmons said opportunities for a tax cut -- without cutting services, lie in these areas:

Increases in sales tax revenue projections, increased revenues from commercial development, $500,000 in savings from an early-retirement incentive program, use of current surplus funds, decreases in long-term debt and interest payments, budget reforms in the town comptroller's office and $100,000 in savings through consolidation of the Building Maintenance Department with the Highway Department.

Amherst's town tax rate has held steady at $6.10 for the past two years. The three Republicans noted.

"Unfortunately Erie County and the school districts haven't held the line on taxes, and as a result, a growing number of residents have been forced to put up their homes for sale to escape ever-increasing property taxes," they said.

"We will work diligently and cooperatively with you and the other members of the Town Board during budget meetings throughout October to see to it that a tax cut budget becomes a reality for 1998," the Republicans told Ms. Grelick.

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