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Budget adopted with 2.64% tax hike

Newly elected Depew Village Board members carried out one of their goals Monday night by adopting a budget that does not rely on a fund balance to reduce taxes.

The board members wanted to build up the general fund, which had fallen to $700,000 from more than $2.5 million in 1995, according to Mayor Barbara A. Alberti.

The board also saved money by making a number of smaller cuts in department budgets, combining the treasurer's position with the clerk's job and eliminating money for another police officer.

The mayor said the board met with each department head to address their needs and the cuts.

"The savings from those cuts are what enable us to have a balanced budget with only a 2.64 percent tax increase," she said.

Spending in the general fund totals $11.03 million, which is up 3.6 percent over the current year. The tax rate will be $19.25 per $1,000 of assessed value, up 50 cents, or 2.64 percent. The tax levy, or total amount to be raised by taxes, is $7.38 million, up 3.8 percent.

The budget spends less but has a slightly higher tax rate than the one proposed in March by then-Mayor Joseph McIntosh. His proposed budget was $11.15 million with a tax rate of $19.11 per $1,000, up 35 cents. Alberti said McIntosh's proposed budget would have had a 4.6 percent increase in taxes if the $200,000 in fund balance had not been pegged to reduce taxes.

Trustee William M. Dillemuth Jr. voted against the budget and against two other motions Monday night. He said after the meeting that he had a difference of opinion on how to spend the money.

Alberti said the 2007-08 budget accounts for retirements, improvements to playgrounds, repairs to the gas pump and mandated increases in health insurance and pension costs.

"Over the next four years, each service and department in the village will be evaluated to bring the service offered in line with the tax dollars utilized to support it," she said. "We are just beginning to chip away at the mountain before us."

Trustee Carl A. Monti said Depew's insurance carrier "cited" the village for several safety hazards at village playgrounds, including swings too close to one another, inadequate surface, concrete that should be removed and a metal slide facing the wrong way.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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