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Hamburg adopts budget that cuts employees and raises taxes

Hamburg Town Board members wrestled with how to save money in next year’s budget, and with the deadline approaching, they eliminated raises for non-union employees, cut five positions and decreased the dog control officer’s position to part time Tuesday.

The $45 million budget goes over the tax cap, but the board cut about $560,000 from the budget Tuesday before approving it. Had they not voted for the changes, the tentative budget would have gone into effect.

The board decided to eliminate one highway worker, one from buildings and grounds, one from recreation, and a vacant police officer position. A dispatcher who is retiring next year would not be replaced.

The board removed about $200,000 that had been on a line for the transition officers last year, but is not needed this year. The board also increased income from the mortgage tax by $50,000.

Had it not been for a 30 percent increase in the cost of health care, spending would have gone down, town officials said.

The town met with its five unions in recent weeks to talk about changes to the health plan, but no agreement could be reached, Supervisor Steven J. Walters said.

“I would not be entirely averse to trying to do layoffs, based on the fact that Blue Collar didn’t even come to the table,” Walters said.

He said a representative of the Blue Collar unit of CSEA did not attend, and the town was told the union wanted any change in health care to be negotiated with the entire contract.

“If they wanted to save their co-workers’ positions,” Councilwoman Cheryl Potter-Juda said, “they have to give something up. Everybody gives a little bit then everybody’s job is saved. If they didn’t even come to the table and they didn’t come to the meeting, then they don’t care.”

Walters suggested reducing highway and buildings and grounds workers, who are overseen by Highway Superintendent Tom Best. Councilman Michael Quinn said the board should look at the recreation department budget. Potter-Juda endorsed eliminating the raise for the 27 non-union employees.

The combined highway and general fund tax rate for town residents living outside the two villages is $10.15 per $1,000 of assessed value, up 65 cents, or 6.93 percent. Residents in the villages of Hamburg and Blasdell will pay $4.72 per $1,000, up 37 cents or 8.6 percent. The tax levy is $25.77 million, up $1.4 million or 5.8 percent.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com