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HIGHER TAX RATES FOR VILLAGE RESIDENTS OPPOSED

All taxpayers in the Town of Hamburg should be treated the same, Hamburg Village Mayor John S. Thomas told the Town Board Monday.

"If the Town of Hamburg is going to have a zero increase, somehow the villages should be included," Thomas said.

He spoke at a joint meeting of the Town Board and officials from the villages of Blasdell and Hamburg. Village officials scolded town officials on the proposed town budget and how it was released.

When Town Supervisor Patrick H. Hoak filed his preliminary budget last month, the tentative tax increases were just under 2 percent for town residents and 5.7 percent for those who live in the villages.

There are different tax rates because village residents, while not required to support such items as town highway and bridge funds, may pay more for other village-only services.

After "fine-tuning" the budget, the Town Board produced a tentative tax increase of 1.4 percent in the villages and zero in the town.

"All town taxpayers should be treated the same," Thomas said.

"We need to evaluate the things they are being charged for," Town Councilman D. Mark Cavalcoli said.

Thomas suggested the town allocate some of its sales tax revenue to the A Fund, which village residents support, and said Town Court should be self-sufficient.

While village officials were in favor of the Town Board's changing health-care plans for elected and appointed officials to reduce costs, they were critical of the practice of giving those officials opting out of the plan a stipend.

"There should be no in-lieu of payment," Thomas said.

"You don't offer those benefits to your part-time recreation employees," Blasdell Trustee Kathleen Cole said.

Town Board members Kathleen Courtney Hochul and Thomas Quatroche Jr., Town Clerk George Danyluk and Superintendent of Highways James F. Connolly receive the rebate for not taking the benefits.

The rebate before the change in medical plans was $4,368, and with the less-expensive plan it would be $2,347.

Councilwoman Joan Kesner does not take the health insurance or the rebate, while other elected officials receive medical insurance through the town.

Ms. Cole also chastised town officials for releasing the proposed budget figures to reporters before village officials were informed.

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