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Higher assessments help lower tax rate

Thanks in part to an increase in village assessments, Williamsville taxpayers would see a 5.34 percent tax rate decrease this year under a tentative spending plan being considered by the Village Board.

The Village Board this week held a budget hearing on Mayor Mary Lowther's proposed $2.67 million plan for the 2006-2007 year. There was no public comment on the proposed budget, she said.

"The tax rate decreased by virtue of the increased townwide assessment process and the board's examination, line by line, of the budget," Lowther said in a statement about the plan.

"With increased assessments, it would be irresponsible to come through with any form of budget or tax increase. Many people who experienced big increases in assessments are being hurt by even a small increase in the tax rate."

The Village Board is expected to adopt the proposed budget at its April 10 meeting.

The total assessed value of properties in the village increased by $36 million, to $265.2 million, in 2005. But she noted that the figure includes some new construction, including condominiums on Essjay and Evans roads.

Under the tentative budget, the tax rate would be reduced to $4.04 per $1,000 of assessed value from the current $4.27.

As a result, the owners of a home assessed at $100,000 would receive a tax bill of $404, which is $23 less than a homeowner with a similarly assessed property would have paid last year.

The proposed budget calls for about $22,000 less in spending than the current village budget. Lowther said there are proposed consolidations and decreases throughout the budget. She noted that elected officials would not receive a pay increase. And the village refinanced the purchase of the old red mill on East Spring Street so that the purchase will be completed in 10 years. The mill faced demolition until the village agreed to buy it.

Lowther said that general insurance and retirement costs "seem to have leveled off" but that health insurance premiums for village workers continue to rise.

Sewer charges for the upcoming fiscal year will remain at $2.68 per 1,000 gallons of water.

"The garbage contract is up this year, and we're anticipating an increase and built that into the budget," Lowther said.

She said village officials still are looking for ways to decrease costs, including purchasing new garbage totes through Erie County.

That, said Lowther, will increase the efficiency of garbage collection and have the side benefit of helping to reduce the rodent population in the village.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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