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New mayor seeks to cut costs, replenish fund balance

The proposed budget prepared by the recently ousted Depew administration is a work in progress, as the new village officials look for ways to cut costs.

During a budget hearing Monday, the new mayor, Barbara Alberti, said her administration will work to save taxpayers money and replenish the fund balance used up by the previous administration.

"The Village of Depew had a substantial fund balance in 1995 of over $2.5 million," Alberti said. "As my new administration takes over this month, the current fund balance is just over $700,000. The prior administration has used over $1.8 million over the past 12 years to fund the budgets."

Alberti added: "We are going to find new ways to fund the budget through new revenue streams, consolidation and expenditure cuts."

So far, Alberti and her team have consolidated the clerk and treasurer's positions, saving the village $45,000 a year. "Every village service will be evaluated throughout the next four years," she said.

The tax rate is projected to increase by 1.89 percent, or 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, to $19.11 per $1,000. Spending in the proposed $11.15 million general fund is up by 4.4 percent, and the amount to be raised by taxes, $7.34 million, is up by about 3 percent.

Irvine G. Reinig II was one of three residents who spoke during the hearing. Reinig stressed the need for change and reform in village government.

"The proposed budget for 2007-08 is more of the same and has very little reform in it," he said. "It proposes a 2 percent property tax increase over last year. By itself, this is the smallest tax increase in five years. However, it does not address many pressing issues facing the Village of Depew."

Reinig added: "Also, Village of Depew taxpayers pay significantly more in combined town and village property taxes than residents living in the towns of Lancaster and Cheektowaga outside the villages and receiving comparable services to the Village of Depew."

In other business, the board voted, 7-0, to rescind the previous board's decision to extend a six-month leave to recreation employee William E. Kwak. Alberti said the move to grant the leave was not legal because the past board had voted to eliminate the position from the tentative budget.

e-mail: esapong@buffnews.com

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