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BOARD DEBATES GROUP-HOME TAX ISSUE

The same night the Hamburg Town Board endorsed state legislation setting up payments in lieu of taxes for group homes, Supervisor Patrick H. Hoak announced he received notice that another residence is planned in the town.

The 16 community residences already located in Hamburg represent more than $2 million in assessed valuation that is exempt from taxes, Hoak said.

Legislation proposed in the Assembly and State Senate would set up a payment in lieu of taxes for residences operated by the state or by nonprofit agencies licensed by the state. State Sen. Dale M. Volker, R-Depew, was among those introducing the bill in the Senate; Assemblyman Sam Hoyt is a co-sponsor in the Assembly.

"We're asking for reimbursement," Hoak said. "We don't have a clear-cut answer on whether this would grandfather existing homes."

"The state is contending it is saving money by deinstitutionalization," Councilwoman Joan A. Kesner said. "There is an outcry around the state and our community about this."

The town's interest in backing the bill came after residents on Loran Avenue objected to the plans of the state Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities to locate a community residence at 4250 Loran, at the end of the dead-end street. It would be the 17th group home in the town.

One of the issues raised in the past month was the loss of tax revenue as residential property is transformed into community residences that are not taxed.

Deputy Town Attorney Richard Boehm said he sent a letter to the state outlining the Loran Avenue residents' concerns, including saturation of the homes in a small area of town, concern over the safety on the street with more vehicles traveling it, and drainage and flooding problems near the home.

Hoak also said he had received a letter from Agape Parents Fellowship of Blasdell informing the town that the group plans to establish a community residence at 4805 Milestrip Road for three adults with developmental disabilities. Hoak said he would set up a meeting between residents and the Agape Parents Fellowship.

Also Monday night, Town Board members praised fire districts for keeping costs down in their budget requests. Five of eight fire protection districts requested at or below the current year's contract amount, and one was just $500 over last year.

"This $2 million we are going to allocate is some of the best tax dollars we can spend," Hoak said.

Districts requesting the same amount include Armor, $175,000; Lake Shore, $430,300; Village of Hamburg, $119,480; and Woodlawn, $325,600. Big Tree requested $372,000, down $350 from this year, and Lake View requested $35,500, $500 more than this year.

Newton Abbott requested $341,350, which is $4,000 more than this year, and Scranton requested $347,600, a $21,600 jump over this year. A spokesman for the Scranton district said the contract had not been raised in four years and had been lowered by $10,000 three years ago.

He said the district also needs to renovate its apparatus bay to correct a safety hazard. Members of both fire companies said increases are due to the increased cost of fuel.

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