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The Ellicott Town Board is reviewing Supervisor Patrick Tyler's preliminary 2002 budget -- the first spending plan to increase taxes in eight years.

Tyler said the $2.9 million budget increases spending by 11 percent. But he added that he is hopeful the projected tax increases can be cut in half by the time he finishes reviewing the plan with department heads and the Town Board.

As it now stands, Tyler noted property owners in the town outside the villages would pay $3.30 per $1,000 of assessed valuation -- a 30 cents per $1,000 increase. In the villages of Falconer and Celoron, he said the increase would be about 15 cents, to $3.16 per $1,000.

He told board members at Wednesday night's meeting that costs have simply gone up.

"We've absorbed salary increases, absorbed the cost of electricity, the cost of fuel, the cost of a lot of different projects in the town that have gone up (in cost)," he said.

In the past, he said, the town has been able to offset increased costs. Tyler said he has cut as much as he wants to until he talks with department heads.

"There's some unused revenues we'll be able to cut some of the budget with. We'll do what we can, (but) I'm not going to promise like I had before that there'll be no tax increase," he said.

He said he will begin meeting with department heads next week to review their budget requests.

Appropriations actually total $3.36 million, including the town's water and sewer district accounts.

On another matter, the board approved a $400 per year increase for customers of the new Buffalo-Willard Water District to hook up.

Tyler said the project costs increased by approximately $85,000.

"We anticipate not having anyone pay any of the bill until January of the year 2003," he said.

"So, this next year no taxes will be taken out for the new district. Then, once everything is finalized, we'll purchase a new bond at hopefully a lower rate."

Tyler hopes refinancing at the lower rate will absorb the cost increase in the long run.

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