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Marilla approves preliminary budget for 2016

Marilla residents once again won’t be required to pay a town tax in the 2016 general fund after the Town Board approved a preliminary budget Tuesday.

Few changes were made to Supervisor Earl A. Gingerich Jr.’s nearly $2.86 million spending plan, which includes the general and highway funds plus the sanitation, special fire and water districts.

The budget includes a 2 percent raise for town officials in the $975,250 general fund, which is projected to grow by $2,200.

The budget calls for collecting $1.285 million in taxes, with nearly half of that amount for sanitation and special fire districts.

The amount to be raised by taxes is less than what was raised to fund the 2015 budget, officials said.

In the general fund, Gingerich had planned to cut the salaries of the four council members by $95 each – to a $10,000 per member – and hold the other salaries flat. However, a majority of the board voted for the raise, arguing that the residents who serve in the mix of elected and appointed positions should be rewarded for their work.

“These people do a good job, and they deserve a raise,” councilwoman Barbara A. Spanitz said.

Gingerich said he wanted to hold the line because standard practice in the last several years provided 3 percent raises for those positions.

“We’ve outpaced every other municipality and the private sector,” Gingerich said.

The board voted, 3-2, for the raise, with Gingerich and Councilwoman Julie L. Lathrop voting against it.

The board also decided to eliminate the $1,500 annual salary for the town’s disaster coordinator, Gregory R. Jankowiak.

Gingerich said Jankowiak, a state trooper, hasn’t accepted the salary in previous years because of a state law that regulates additional public-sector income for troopers.

Although spending for the town’s general fund is expected to rise by $2,200, the increase will be offset by additional revenues and a small boost from town’s unexpended balance.

A slight decrease also is projected in 2016 for the highway fund, with Gingerich setting aside $533,100, a drop of $14,400 from the 2015 spending plan. This amounts to about 0.7 cents less per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Gingerich cut nonproperty tax distribution from Erie County by $20,000 in the highway budget, but said it is offset by a $35,000 payment last March in debt services on the purchase of a highway truck that was projected to be paid in 2016.

The board will hold a public hearing on the budget at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5 in Town Hall prior to its regular monthly meeting.

Other budget highlights include:

• The fee for the $412,700 sanitation district will remain unchanged at $150 per unit or office.

• The special fire district is to receive $374,965, with the tax rate remaining flat.

• Fees for Water Districts 2, 3 and 4 are projected at $125 per property, with the Water District 5 fee set at $250.