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REVALUATION MAY HIKE SOME TAX BILLS DESPITE SLASH IN RATE

A property revaluation that stirred controversy across Clarence this year will mean a much lower townwide tax rate next year, although not necessarily lower tax bills.

A $14.8 million tentative budget submitted Tuesday by Clarence Supervisor Paul R. McCarthy carries a total tax rate of $1.83 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for the general, highway and central alarm funds, down 33 percent from the current rate of $2.73.

In addition, the amount to be raised by taxes is down 4.2 percent from this year.

However, reval increased thousands of property assessments, creating a new town taxable assessed valuation of $1.6 billion, up from $1.1 billion.

Clarence residents can get an idea of the impact of reval on their tax bill, officials said, by multiplying the current rate of $2.73 by their old assessment and the proposed new rate of $1.83 by their new assessment.

For example, a home formerly assessed at $100,000 will have the same tax bill for town purposes in 1998 if the new assessed value is no more than $148,500, McCarthy said. If the new assessment on the $100,000 home is greater than $148,500, the owner will pay more town taxes; if it is less than $148,500, taxes will be less, he said.

The supervisor said the increase in the town's taxable value from $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion means the average assessment rose by 45 percent. Based on these figures and new tax rates, "the average home will have a tax bill from the town slightly less than the 1997 bill," McCarthy wrote in the annual supervisor's budget message.

The budget, which now goes to the full Town Board for review, proposes new tax rates of 86 cents per $1,000 for the general fund, 90 cents for the highway fund and 7 cents for the central alarm fund, down from $1.29, $1.34 and 10 cents, respectively.

General and highway fund appropriations are up by $415,500 from their current-year level of $8,505,280.

But revenues and the expenditure of surplus funds are increased by $537,652, creating a 4.2 percent reduction in the amount to be raised in taxes next year.

The proposed budget provides for raises of about 3.5 percent for the town's two unions as well as elected officials and department heads, McCarthy said.

McCarthy praised town department heads for what he described as their hold-the-line approach to next year's budget.

"Through sound financial planning and daily efforts to properly allocate our resources, this budget makes every effort to lessen any negative impact of revaluation," the supervisor wrote in his budget message.

Here are the new tax rates per $1,000 of assessed valuation proposed in some of the town's larger special districts, which affect only property owners in those districts. This year's rates are in parentheses:

Water districts, 35 cents plus footage charges (50 cents); Clarence Fire District, $1.50 ($2); Wastewater Districts 1 and 3, 6 cents (10 cents); Clarence Center Fire Protection District, 93 cents ($1.34); Rapids Fire Protection District, 58 cents (92 cents); Swormville Fire Protection District, 86 cents ($1.21); East Amherst Fire Protection District, 59 cents (73 cents); and Harris Hill Fire Protection District, 86 cents ($1.16).

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