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Village adopts budget with tax hike

For the first time ever, the Lewiston Village Board adopted a budget with a tax rate that exceeds $6 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The board adopted a $2.88 million budget for 2007-08 with a tax rate of $6.27 per $1,000. The spending plan was approved unanimously, with Trustee Terry Collesano absent.

The tax rate is up 5 percent from this year's $5.95 per $1,000. The newly adopted budget is up a total of $180,000 from this year.

Village taxpayers were paying about $4.43 per $1,000 in the mid-1990s to 2003, when the first increase brought the rate up to between $5.20 to $5.35 per $1,000. But in 2006, the rate threatened to jump up to $6.06 but was held to $5.95.

Soluri said last year that village employees received a 4.1 percent pay increase, which reflected escalating health-care costs and a volunteer firefighters pension, raising annual costs from $39,000 to $61,000.

The new budget takes effect June 1 and includes another 4.1 percent pay increase for employees. Not included in the pay hike is Mayor Richard F. Soluri and the four trustees, whose salaries will remain at $7,000 and $4,527, respectively. Deputy Mayor and Trustee William Geiben receives an additional $350 per year for his role as deputy.

Soluri said the pay increase for all employees was based on a three-year contract negotiated with public works employees, all members of the Teamsters union. Officials have tried to extend the pay increase to all employees.

In adjusting the budget, trustees agreed to make several thousand dollars in cuts and then raise funding for Lewiston Library from $2,500 to $4,000 and transfer $9,000 to the sewer fund.

Soluri said the library funding is expected to be used for a yet-to-be-determined special project, and the sewer funding will be used to conduct a study on leaking sewer lines.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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