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PROPOSED BUDGET LISTS TAX INCREASE UNDER 1%

A tentative 2002 budget of $67.5 million for the Town of Tonawanda, calling for less than a 1 percent tax increase, was submitted Monday by Supervisor Ronald H. Moline.

Appropriations in the proposed budget would increase by 1.9 percent over this year's. Proposed appropriations include $31.3 million for town employee services, $11.1 million for contractual services, $9.8 million for employee benefits and just over $6 million for equipment, supplies and capital construction.

"I am satisfied that this budget will continue our tradition of being a full-service community at a price that is reasonable for taxpayers," Moline said. "I'm pleased to tell you the tax increase -- the bottom line -- is less than one percent. . . ." In other words, Moline said, the average homeowner living in a home assessed at $50,000 will pay about $7.30 more in 2002 than this year, or about $788 in town taxes overall.

According to Moline, the town's overall tax levy and revenue figures look different in 2002 because of an agreement shifting the tax payment of the town's largest taxpayer, NRG Huntley, a River Road electric utility.

Beginning in 2002, NRG Huntley will make a lump-sum payment of more than $2.7 million as a payment in lieu of taxes rather than paying real property taxes.

The reclassification drops the town's overall tax levy to $26.6 million, down 10.7 percent from last year's budget.

Without the reclassification, the levy would still drop about $450,000, or about 1.5 percent, while the estimated town revenues would increase by 1.39 percent from last year, Moline said.

Under the town's general and highway budgets only, which comprise three of nine components of the overall tax bill, homestead residents outside the Village of Kenmore can expect to pay $7.83 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, up from $7.71 a year ago. Non-homestead properties would pay $13.49 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, down from $13.84 last year.

Homestead properties include one-, two- or three-family homes. Every other property in the town, including vacant land, businesses and industry, is considered non-homestead property.

Moline said the town remains committed to phasing out this two-tier tax system, which applies only to the general and highway funds of the budget, over the next 10 years.

"This will minimize and spread out the impact on homeowners during the transition to a uniform tax rate," he said.

Moline also outlined a number of town improvements that are part of the 2002 budget including:

Capital improvements to town libraries.

Upgrading sand traps at both town golf courses.

Purchasing one dump truck, two snowplows, a root cutter, garbage packer and three recycling vehicles for the Highway Department.

Resurfacing of 20 miles of town roads.

Replacing 17 police vehicles.

Providing $1.1 million in water and sewer improvements or replacements.

The Town Board will hold two budget workshops next month in preparation for the budget's final adoption later this fall.

email: tpignataro@buffalonews.com

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