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Proposed budget in Cheektowaga would mean slight decrease in taxes

Taxes would go down slightly in Cheektowaga next year, thanks to an increase in assessments and more than $700,000 in spending cuts in the proposed town budget.

While the overall 2017 tax levy remains the same as last year at $65.98 million, tax rates would come down because of an increase in assessments of 2.5 percent.

The tax rate for those living outside the villages is $11.87 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, down by 32 cents, or 2.68 percent. With the hydrant and sewer charges, the rate would total $12.55 per $1,000. And with the drainage fee and sewer consumption fees added, the tax bill for a home assessed at $100,000 outside the villages would be $1,604, down by about $26 from this year.

Depew residents would pay $7.55 per $1,000, down by 10 cents, or 1.36 percent, and Sloan and Williamsville property owners would pay $8.45 per $1,000, down by 13 cents, or 1.5 percent.

“I know it’s small,” Supervisor Diane M. Benczkowski said, “but it’s a start.”

Spending also is down slightly in the $88.91 million tentative budget.

The supervisor, who is serving her first term, formed a budget advisory committee earlier this year, and the panel recommended reductions of 3 to 5 percent in overtime, part-time payroll and nonpersonnel expenses. Benczkowski asked department heads to come up with 5 percent cuts in those areas, she said, and they did.

The Town Board also decided not to replace six full-time employees who had retired last year: two maintenance workers, an auto body repairer, a mail clerk, a dispatcher and a highway laborer. After the town attorney retired this year, the position was made part time, Benczkowski said. Spending in the Highway Department went down by more than half a million dollars, with much of that attributed to paying off debt.

There are some increased costs, including medical benefits and retirement costs, as well as contractual pay increases. Benczkowski said the town must spend money on complying with a state Department of Environmental Conservation consent order, although the town has won a $5 million grant and a $15 million interest-free loan to address sewer overflows into Scajaquada Creek.

She also cited the removal of more than 700 ash trees infected with the emerald ash borer as another cost challenge, although she said the trees on town property probably would not be taken down next year unless the town wins a grant for the work.

“It’s a step in the right direction that we can try and chip away and cut spending and decrease taxes,” Benczkowski said.

A public hearing is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Oct. 17 in Council Chambers at Town Hall.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com

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