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Orchard Park taxes up less than 2 percent in 2014 budget plan

Tax rates in Orchard Park would go up less than 2 percent next year, despite a large increase in the Police Department budget, town officials said Wednesday night.

Supervisor Janis Colarusso presented her proposed 2014 budget to Town Board members, although she said it will not be filed in the town clerk’s office until next week.

Police Chief Mark Pacholec also gave a 45-minute presentation on the police budget, which includes the hiring of six new officers and six new public safety dispatchers this year.

The town started the year with 29 officers and now has 32, he said. There is a new assistant chief, a position that had not been filled in a number of years, and a traffic officer, and the town filled vacancies caused by retirements.

“The Police Department has grown ... in the last six months, and it needs to be budgeted so that it can operate the way we expect it to,” Colarusso said.

Pacholec was named chief in January.

“In April of this year I started seeing issues with our budget,” he said.

Among the issues was no overtime budgeted for the year. The chief is allotting $239,000 for overtime next year.

Pacholec said he would like to work on scheduling officers to reduce overtime, and a records and communications supervisor would help relieve some duties of the patrol supervisor. He said he also is working on having the budget be more consistent from year to year. Instituting a schedule for replacing equipment would help achieve that goal, he said.

The Police Department budget for next year would be $2.6 million, with 32 officers, compared with $2.67 million in 2010 when there were 33 officers, Pacholec said.

While the budget is not final, it looks like the combined general, police and highway fund tax rate would be $5.96 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for those living outside the Village of Orchard Park, an increase of 1.94 percent. The rate for those living inside the village would go up 1.78 percent to $6.30 per $1,000. The budget uses about $1.5 million in fund balance to reduce the tax rate, which is about $500,000 more than was used this year.