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Lancaster Village Board adopts $7.4 million budget

The Lancaster Village Board on Monday adopted a $7.4 million budget for 2013-14 that raises the property tax rate by 1.96 percent from the current year’s budget.

The tax levy, or the amount to be collected in taxes, rises by 1.17 percent next year and spending rises by 3.6 percent.

The tentative budget introduced last month called for higher spending and larger increases in the tax levy and property tax rate, but village officials on Monday approved a budget that reflected revisions made in recent weeks.

“We’re very proud to be under 2 percent,” Mayor Paul M. Maute said after the board voted 5-0 to approve the budget.

The tentative budget called for a property tax hike of 3.87 percent and an increase in the tax levy of 3.18 percent, which is higher than the state cap and required a vote of the Village Board to override this limit.

The adjustments made by village officials included changing a full-time public works job to part-time status, lowering the amount of money spent on employee health care and applying money left over from previous bonds.

“A lot of hard work, many debates, but we came to an understanding,” Trustee Russell W. Sugg said in praising the changes.

Spending in 2013-14 will rise by $260,554 from the current budget, $41,512 less than the $302,066, or 4.2 percent, increase included in the tentative budget.

Maute, who serves as budget director, and Village Clerk/Treasurer Michael E. Stegmeier consulted with trustees and department heads to find ways to reduce the impact of the budget on Lancaster taxpayers.

One modification changes a full-time clerk-typist in the Department of Public Works to part-time, reducing the employee’s salary and eliminating health-care benefits for the job. Trustee Kenneth L. O’Brien III said the current employee has agreed to take the part-time position.

Another adjustment lowers by $50,000 the amount the village expects to pay in health-care benefits for its employees, a change made based on the village’s recent history with its Health Reimbursement Account, Stegmeier said.

And the other major alteration saw the village apply to its 2013-14 debt-service payments $33,239 that was previously borrowed but never used, O’Brien said. The use of this revenue lowered the amount the village must collect in property taxes.

With the changes, which O’Brien praised as “innovative,” property taxes will rise from $9.74 per $1,000 of assessed value to $9.93 per $1,000.

The owner of a home assessed at $150,000 would pay $1,489.35 in village property taxes next year, an extra $28.68 over the current year but less than the $56.51 increase included in the tentative budget.

Also Monday, trustees voted to appoint Dawn Gaczewski as the village’s part-time special events coordinator.

The board initially voted on April 8 to have Gaczewski and Mary Jo Monnin split the coordinator’s duties. Each woman was set to earn $5,000 over the course of the one-year contract, as well as 25 percent of any money raised from sponsors for the events.

But Monnin declined the appointment after she couldn’t get permission to take the part-time position from her employer, The Buffalo News, where she works as a sports reporter.

So the board on Monday voted to give Gaczewski the full $10,000, and the 25 percent commission, though this applies only to money raised from new event sponsors, according to Trustee Dawn Robinson.

Gaczewski replaces Jennie E. Smith, whose three-year contract as special events coordinator expired Dec. 31. Smith stayed on to temporarily fill those duties, until a replacement was found, and trustees voted to pay her $3,279 for this additional work.