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Board adopts $3.17 million budget with 12% tax hike

Village Board members apologized to taxpayers as they adopted a $3.17 million budget Monday that increases taxes by 12 percent, the first tax increase in nearly six years. The budget was adopted 4-0, with board member Therese Mudd absent.

The new tax rate of $7.12 per $1,000 of assessed valuation is up 88 cents from the current rate of $6.24 in this year's $2.9 million budget.

Mayor Terry C. Collesano said before the meeting that he went over the books in the past two weeks to cut the tax rate, which was proposed at $7.19 at the last meeting, taking $5,000 from contingency and $5,000 from the police budget in anticipation of coming to an agreement with the town for more police funding in the shared service.

Board members said mandated spending, on things such as insurance, retirement, union agreements, fire company awards and their shared of funding for the Water Pollution Control Center upgrade has left their hands tied.

"This is the most we can do without laying people off," board member Bruce Sutherland said.

All village employees were given an across-the-board 3 percent pay increase, but the board members and mayor took no increases. Sutherland, who is also deputy mayor, withdrew a request to attend a training conference in Saratoga Springs on Monday because of the tight budget.

Trustee Victor E. Eydt called it a "tough, tough budget" that they spent many hours working on.

"We skinned it down to bare bones. We haven't increased anything, but what the state has mandated." Eydt said. "We know people will grumble, but I'm not happy with it myself."

Collesano told The Buffalo News after the meeting that for the past 13 years, the tax rate has increased only $1.81 and even decreased two cents in 2009.

"We did do our best to keep the tax rates low," Collesano said in the meeting.

"One thing you have to remember is that this whole board are taxpayers, too. We don't want to pay any more taxes then anyone else," Collesano said.

The board once again discussed a plan to further limit on-street parking and ban parking, especially paid parking on lawns in residential areas during Artpark's Tuesday in the Park concerts.

John Tourbin of South Fourth Street, who benefits from paid parking of motorcycles on his lawn, suggested the board consider permits in residential areas.

"We are trying to resolve it," Collesano said of the traffic jams.

"There are differing points of view," Eydt said. "No one person is going to be happy, but our main goal is to get the traffic out of there."

Al Soluri, a commissioner on the police board, told the board that they would need to enact some type of a plan soon because the first concert will be held June 14 and the police need time to become familiar with the law. He suggested a 90-day trial, which was rejected by the board.

"We've tried to even out [the parking] so the entire village [not just certain streets] would feel the effect of 10,000 to 15,000 people on a Tuesday night," Soluri said.

No action was taken, but the board plans to discuss the issue at their next meeting May 2.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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