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Board's budget scrutiny stirs questions $25,000 more added to library funding

The Elma Town Board did a line-by-line review of the proposed budget of $6.7 million at a work session Wednesday, and members questioned everything from having councilmen contribute to their health insurance to maintaining an unfilled fire inspector's position in the budget.

The board decided to add another $25,000 to the library budget for carpet replacement, bringing the library line to $45,000. When some councilmen dragged their feet about the increase, Councilman David Polak said it was a potential liability issue because the town owns the building and the carpeting is a safety issue. He also said there is a water leak under the building.

A proposal by Supervisor Michael Nolan to have the councilmen pay 10 percent toward their health insurance costs was questioned by Polak, who thought the $6,900 it would generate was such a small amount that the 10 percent should be paid by all employees. Nolan said the proposal was more of a symbolic gesture to bring the town more in line with the private sector.

Councilman Dennis Powers added that a board contribution is a first step, with the next step being having non-union employees contribute and the third step being eventual negotiations with unionized workers over the issue.

Polak also questioned having money in the budget for the past few years for a fire inspector but never filling the post. He said a paid inspector is needed.

"There is money in the budget. Saving to pay off the Town Hall debt is OK, but protecting firemen pays for itself, it's a wash," Polak said.

Nolan said the best thing to do is to meet with the fire council to discuss it.

Nolan said the town's post-storm cleanup costs have escalated to $100,000 so far but are 100 percent reimbursable by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He said a section of Bowen Road was closed to all but local traffic Thursday for tree cleanup.

Halloween will go on in Elma as scheduled Tuesday.

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