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Draft budget hikes tax rate less than 1%

East Aurora's tentative 2009-10 village budget calls for less than a 1 percent increase in the tax rate under a $7.57 million general fund spending plan.

Given the current economic climate, Village Administrator Kimberly Reichert noted during the unveiling of the spending plan Tuesday, the proposed tax rate would barely increase -- rising to $16.69 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, up from the current $16.68 rate. That reflects a 0.078 percent tax rate increase spread among 6,700 village residents, or less than a $1 increase per resident.

The tax levy would rise by $5,072, bringing the total amount to $3.36 million that the village raises through taxes.

Health care costs for village employees account for the largest increase in the budget. The average increase in health care costs is about 14 percent, though it goes as high as 22 percent in some cases. Reichert said her goal is to get the village's coverage under one health care company by the end of the year.

State highway funding was reduced by 40 percent, and sales tax revenues were conservatively estimated. Mortgage tax was estimated at 20 percent less than the previous year.

The new budget proposal also includes the purchase of a new sidewalk plow for $29,500 per year over five years.

Non-union personnel would receive 3 percent pay raises. But travel and training budgets were reduced across all departments, Reichert said.

A public hearing must be held on the budget by April 15, with adoption no later than April 30, or the village's current budget would kick in.

Trustees Peter Mercurio and Kevin Biggs asked that the village find a way to avoid the 0.07 percent tax rate increase.

"With pressure on the people, I would resist any tax increase. I want no tax increase," Mercurio said. "We can make some smart cuts."

To scrap the tax rate increase, the village would need to shave $5,000 in its budget.

No water rate increases are recommended for now, though the estimated water fund appropriation rose by 6 percent because of the first debt principal payment on the Main Street water improvements.

e-mail: krobinson@!buffnews.com

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