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Proposed budget would raise Lancaster tax rate by 2.15 percent

The Village of Lancaster's proposed 2012-13 budget would raise the tax rate for businesses and homeowners by 2.15 percent, though the final version could see a slightly lower tax rate, Mayor William G. Cansdale Jr. said this week.

Rising costs for employee salaries and benefits are driving an increase in spending of 1.6 percent from the $7.1 million 2011-12 budget, though village officials offset some of those costs by reining in spending on debt service and travel.

"By virtue of events catching up with us, and trying to balance expenses and revenues, we're going to see a small -- very small -- increase to compensate for those costs that are beyond our control," Cansdale said in an interview.

Village employees, union and non-union, would receive raises of 3 percent.

Cansdale's salary would remain at $12,900, and he would continue to receive $5,900 for serving as budget director.

Village Attorney Arthur A. Herdzik's pay would remain at $31,275, but Village Justice Paul T. Bumbalo would receive a raise from $17,700 to $19,000. And the four village trustees would receive a pay increase from $9,000 to $9,900 each.

"They're down there all the time, and they haven't had a raise in years. And they gave up health care a while ago, in the '90s," Cansdale said.

The owners of a home in the village assessed at $150,000 would pay $1,463.37 in village property taxes next year, an increase of $30.87.

The tax levy -- the amount the village expects to raise in property taxes -- would rise by 2.44 percent, to $4.5 million.

This falls within the cap set by state law for increases in the tax levy of 2 percent, plus certain exemptions -- about 2.6 percent in Lancaster's case.

Cansdale's tentative budget for 2012-13 would raise spending from the current year's $7.1 million to $7.2 million. Employee benefits are set to rise by nearly $90,000, to $1.7 million.

In addition, the village's union employees would see a 3 percent pay raise that is included in their contracts, and non-union workers would receive a matching raise.

The village has 20 union employees, five full-time exempt employees and 18 part-time exempt employees, Cansdale said.

General fund spending would rise by just $24,786, or 0.4 percent, because village officials plan to spend less on debt service and travel.

Spending in the sewer fund would rise by 16 percent, to $830,135, because of a recent sewer improvement project.

Cansdale noted the village continues to reap the financial benefits of the mergers of the village and town police departments and the village's water department with the Erie County Water Authority.

The tax rate would rise from $9.55 to nearly $9.76 per $1,000 of assessed value. This increase follows a decline of 5 percent from 2010-11 to 2011-12, while the tax rate did not change between 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Village officials are eyeing savings from lower spending on utilities, among other changes, to bring the increase in the tax rate from 2.15 percent to below 2 percent, Cansdale said.

A public budget hearing will be held at 7:15 p.m. Monday in the Municipal Building. The Village Board is expected to vote on the plan after that hearing.