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Spending rise would lift tax rate 9%

At a time when economic fallout is severe, Aurora taxpayers could face a nearly 9 percent tax-rate increase next year under a proposed $2.94 million townwide budget calling for a 12 percent jump in spending.

Aurora's preliminary 2009 budget contains sharp increases of which town leaders say they're already mindful, and they plan to pare significantly, beginning as early as 4 p.m. today during a budget work session in the old Town Hall at 5 S. Grove St.

"Everything is on the table," Supervisor Dwight D. Krieger said Tuesday. "We're being conservative on the revenues because sales tax revenues and the mortgage taxes are expected to be down."

"We have definite decreases coming," said budget officer Sue Mascia. "This is preliminary, but we're looking to go line-by-line to see where we can cut. The revenues just aren't meeting the costs. The cost of everything is up, like fuel."

Krieger said that the projected tax rate increase is not acceptable and that several departments are being asked to make budget cuts, including recreation expenses. The town may even be forced to raise recreation fees and the cost of building permits and dog licenses, he said, noting that children in ball leagues may have to receive paper certificates instead of season-end trophies, or maybe won't receive full uniforms to wear, but instead just a shirt and ball cap.

"It sounds petty, but it adds up," Krieger said.

Town officials, who expect to adopt a budget Nov. 10, say they know that the budget is much too high to garner public support. Councilman William D. Reuter and Krieger both said they hope the townwide tax rate increase can be around 3 percent, pared significantly from the tentative 8.7 percent projected increase.

The general fund townwide budget, which affects town and East Aurora village residents, has a projected tax rate of $2.83 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The amount raised through taxes would rise by 10 percent.

At the same time, revenues are estimated to drop by 3.3 percent, with the appropriated fund balance soaring by 43 percent and the fund balance for debt service rising four times the current $50,000 budgeted for that currently.

In the general fund part-town budget, which affects residents living outside the village, the projected tax rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation reflects a 7.8 percent increase on a tentative $1.17 in appropriations.

For union and non-union Aurora employees, a 3 percent wage increase is budgeted across the board. Pay for elected officials, including the supervisor and council members, is staying the same. The supervisor earns $35,902; while four council members each make $10,975.

e-mail: krobinson@buffnews.com

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