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BUDGET PROPOSAL INCLUDES 8% SPENDING HIKE

Newstead Supervisor Donald C. Holmes has released a tentative $2,745,842 town budget for 2001 that is an increase of 8.17 percent, or $207,462, over this year's.

Under the supervisor's proposal, the tax rate -- not including water and garbage -- would rise from $2.65 to $2.92 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in the town outside the Village of Akron. In the village, the town tax rate would be $1.74, up 25 cents.

Estimated revenues are projected at $1,145,939, up from $1,030,193 this year. The total amount to be raised by taxes would rise to $1,433,253 from $1,335,687, an increase of $97,566.

"Creating the budget -- as it always does -- presented a series of new challenges," Holmes said in his budget message. "We have another new water district, the highway superintendent has made several proposals for services we might provide on behalf of the county, and the demand for funds to maintain recently added town facilities continues to grow."

Holmes also said that the Town Board and assessor are committed to reviewing assessments to "keep up with changing values."

In the highway fund, Holmes said, one of the major sources of revenue is the plowing and mowing service the town provides for the county and state.

The highway superintendent has asked to expand the work, which will require more labor and some equipment costs. In an effort to provide the necessary tools, Holmes said he increased the budget for labor and equipment, and also increased the income estimates.

During the past couple of years, Holmes said, the town has added several miles of bike path and has begun the process of developing property on Buell Street into a park with the help of volunteers who did much of the work.

"The time has arrived when both of these facilities will need ongoing maintenance," he said. "We have also purchased land adjacent to the park that we plan to use for a future highway facility, and at some time, a new Town Hall."

Currently, Holmes said, the Town Board is discussing possible revisions in Building Department fees suggested by the code enforcement officer.

"The goal is to more closely reflect our real cost of doing business," he added. "I have made some adjustments in the budget for the general fund outside the village to reflect these changes."

Holmes, who noted that the library project is well under way, said work will begin on the foundation and site development soon. "These are exciting times, and this project will give us much of which to be proud," he said. "The downside is that money has been borrowed to get the project under way, and the new budget must provide funds to make the first payment."

Holmes also said that after a large increase in refuse charges this year, town residents will see a $12.50 decrease next year because of a significant reduction in the cost of disposal at American Ref- "The cost for emergency services will rise by 2 cents due largely to increased costs for dispatch services through the Town of Amherst," he said. "The fact that general fund revenues continue to run ahead of projections means that the general fund tax rate will only rise by 25 cents as we begin paying for our new library."

The budget -- which will be reviewed by the Town Board before a public hearing is scheduled -- includes 3 percent salary raises "across the board," Holmes said.

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