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BUDGET PLAN CONTINUES TAX-CUTTING WAYS

A proposed 2001 budget for the Town of Wheatfield reflects a property tax decrease of about 3 percent.

Supervisor Timothy E. Demler said this is the fifth consecutive year he has given property owners a tax cut. If the current tax decrease stands, about 21 percent will have been trimmed from the property tax rate over the half-decade.

For the average homeowner, the proposed cut should save about $15, Demler said.

The supervisor said he was proud to be able to offer a reduction while improving services at the same time.

"We are giving residents more services, and our services are better than most communities," he said Monday.

The $7.7 million budget, which will be brought to the Town Board next month, includes:

90,000 for a swimming pool at Fairmont Park, raising pool appropriations to $180,000.

$37,000 for increased police protection. The town would get about 20,000 hours of services from the Niagara County Sheriff's Department in exchange for purchasing a new vehicle for the department. Demler said the deal would double the protection the town has without the huge costs of starting and maintaining its own department.

About $160,000 for the first payment on the bond for the yet-to-be-built community center.

$7,500 for a fireworks display.

Funding for Halloween and Christmas parties.

Money for a series of concerts throughout the town.

A 3 percent pay raise for all town employees.

Funding for payments on both phases of the completed sewer project.

Demler credited investments, savings from shared services and an increased tax base for the town's sound fiscal condition.

He said town Budget Director Winston Moeller invested the bond money for the sewer project and the community center. The interest from investing was greater than the interest on the bonds, giving the town a profit.

Town departments have been cooperating in a shared-services program of equipment and supplies.

Also, over the past year, the tax base has increased by $20 million. Demler said two-thirds of the growth in Niagara County has occurred in Wheatfield. The cuts will be reflected in the sewer, refuse, water and fire special-district charges, as there is no general town tax.

He noted that the reductions would not affect the town surplus, which would remain at $2.7 million. Demler is expected to present the budget during a public hearing Monday.

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