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Six reasons why Amherst property taxes likely to go up next year

Amherst property owners are likely to see their tax bills go up in 2017, after six straight years of nominal tax decreases. And here are the main reasons, as outlined by Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein.

Reason 1: Health insurance costs have gone up 3 percent for the first time since the town became self-insured,

Reason 2: Principal and interest payments on the town’s wastewater treatment remediation went up.

Reason 3: Additional spending ($312,000) for 18 new positions, including a new engineer and purchasing director, as well as a deputy highway superintendent and highway purchaser.

Reason 4: A 2 percent increase in payrolls costs

Reason 5: A $780,000 increase in the town’s trash collection contract with Modern Disposal.

Reason 6: Damages and attorney’s fees totaling $4 million that the town was forced to pay to a local developer following a court trial and two appeals that the town lost.

That last item was a “blunder” and “a significant component” of why taxes are being raised, Weinstein said,

Back in 2006, William L. Huntress of Acquest Wehrle contended that his property rights were violated when town officials failed to make him aware that there was a 50-year moratorium on developing land on Wehrle Drive he had purchased with the expressed purpose of developing it. After a court trial, he was initially awarded $3 million.

Some factors held down the increase, Weinstein noted. Among them:

Revenue projections for mortgage tax, cable franchise fees and building permits are up over $1 million,

Utility costs for the town are down 5 to 10 percent.

The tax levy under Weinstein’s proposed budget is up 2.44 percent to nearly $73.4 million over last year’s levy. One factor that may help taxpayers:

“Offsetting the increased tax levy is a 1.5 increase in new construction assessed value the past year and (up) 7.79 percent since 2010,” Weinstein said.

Weinstein announced last week that he would not include almost $100,000 in pay raises for elected officials that the Town Board approved last month. However, those raises are expected to be restored by a majority of the board once it starts amending the supervisor’s budget plan.

Tax rate: $8.34 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, up 7 cents from this year.

Taxes on an average $150,000 home in Amherst: up $10.90 to $1,250.30, according to Town Comptroller Darlene A. Carroll.

The Town Board will hold the first of three public hearings on the budget at 7 p.m. Monday during the board’s regular business meeting in Council Chambers of Town Hall, 5583 Main St. Hearings on the budget are also set for 3 p.m. Oct. 19 and 7 p.m. Nov. 1.


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