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Town board continues to look for cuts in 2010 budget

The tentative 2010 Lockport town budget reduces taxes on the average home by $1.39, but the Town Board started cutting it Wednesday, and more reductions are expected, Supervisor Marc R. Smith said.

The board was presented the working version of the budget for the first time Wednesday. The proposed spending totals $14.2 million, which is $351,000, or 2.5 percent, more than this year's budget.

The amount to be raised by taxes would be $5.6 million, or $73,669 more than this year. However, with the town's tax base still growing, the owner of a $100,000 home would see the $1.39 reduction.

The town has no general property tax, but it does charge property taxes for the water, sewer and highway funds, as well as lighting and sidewalk districts in some parts of town, and a flat fee for refuse disposal and recycling.

The general fund is balanced by spending $500,000 from the town's surplus, a substantial increase from this year's appropriation of $271,000 in surplus funds. Smith said the general surplus was becoming too large and even with the planned appropriation, the fund balance will still contain about $1.5 million, while the general fund spending is $3.3 million.

"Our fund balances are growing," Smith said. "That money belongs to the residents, not us."

The town board immediately scrubbed a proposal to give themselves and Smith pay raises. The budget had assumed the elected officials would see the same 3 percent increase union employees will receive in 2010.

Also dropped was a proposal to move $100,000 into a fund for work the town is committed to do at the site of the proposed new Lockport YMCA on Snyder Drive, a project that has run into fundraising slowdowns.

Smith said the town already has placed $200,000 into a reserve fund to cover the contracted work near the end of the project, which has not begun. He said the town regards the previous allocations as fulfilling the contract with the YMCA for now.

Other major spending items in the budget include $130,000 in parks improvements. All but $20,000 of that would be spent at Day Road Park, where new soccer fields are being prepared.

Smith said the budget line includes construction of restrooms at that park, but the board has yet to agree to that project.

The major equipment purchase in the budget is a nearly $200,000 excavator. One of the major factors in the budget is a state-mandated 60 percent increase in contributions to the public employee pension fund, which adds up to $90,000 in the general and highway funds alone.

The board will continue working on the budget Wednesday.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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