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Villagers protest higher property taxes

Village residents continue to take their protests about increased tax bills to the Village Board.

Business owner Rebecca Hughes asked Village Board members Monday night what officials are doing to cut costs.

Hughes, who said her property taxes rose $1,200 and her water bill also was higher, asked why village officials don't consider sharing water services with Dunkirk, Forestville and other Chautauqua County communities.

Consolidation was on the minds of other residents as well.

"I like our own Police Department and Streets Department, but there comes a time when we can't afford them," Ann Fredericks said.

Laura Napoli, of the Baghat and Laurito-Baghat accounting firm, pointed to increases in expenses and revenue losses that resulted in the village needing an additional $235,000 in this year's budget.

She said major considerations were balancing the water and sewer fund by using $75,000 from the general fund and the loss of $25,000 in state sales tax revenue.

Other increased expenses included $75,000 for capital purchases, including vehicles, and about $20,000 for employee benefits.

The village's total assessed value rose to $83 million, from about $69 million, due to revised assessments in the Town of Hanover. However, the increases still did not raise enough revenue to balance the budget, and most taxpayers saw a substantial increase.

Mayor Kurt Lindstrom said village trustees are looking at methods to conserve funds and share services.

"It may not appear that we are working together, but we are," he said.
In other matters, the board:

* Rejected applying for state grant money to eradicate weeds.

"The grant money was funded at 50 percent, and we don't need to spend that now," Trustee Ed Newman said.

* Called for an audit of the Village Court because of a $9,000 shortfall in revenue last year.

* Will consider a building code law targeting rental properties. A public hearing on the law will be held at 7:45 p.m. July 2.

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