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5 Lancaster town officials get 2 percent raises as budget is adopted

Lancaster's five highest-paid elected town officials will enjoy 2 percent pay raises next year, but the four council members decided to forego any raise.

The Town Board voted 4 to 1 Monday to adopt its final 2017 budget of $32.32 million that calls for a minimal tax increase for Lancaster village residents, no increase to Depew village residents and a slight drop in town taxes for homes outside the two villages.

Joanna Coleman

Johanna Coleman

Supervisor Johanna M. Coleman, completing her first year in office, said afterward that she did not feel a salary increase for herself and four other elected officials was excessive.

"The elected officials haven't had a raise going into the sixth year. Everyone is working harder and the cost of living is increasing, " said Coleman, whose pay will rise to $68,337. "There isn't a day that goes by that I don't work. I like to work and feel blessed I can."

Coleman also noted that the supervisor's salary was drastically cut four years ago from about $85,000 to its current $66,997. "It becomes difficult to attract people" to the full-time job with a lower salary, she said.

The highest-paid elected official is the town clerk, who will earn $85,692 under the new rate. The highway superintendent's salary will increase to $81,742. The two town justices will each earn $42,722.

The town's four council members decided against raising their pay from the current $18,975.

"I didn't feel I needed it," said Councilman John Abraham, who is a teacher at Lancaster High School. "I'm a part-time town employee and I have a full-time job."

Overall, the budget is good news for taxpayers.

On average, taxpayers living outside the two villages, will see their taxes drop by 0.11 percent on a home assessed at $100,000. Their average tax bill will be about $905.79.

In the village of Lancaster, homeowners with a home assessed at $100,000 will face a $533.79 tax bill, up by o.76 percent or $4.04 over 2016.

Owners of a $100,000 home in Depew will not see any increase on their $247 town tax bill.

"All in all, it's a good budget. We were able to stay under the tax cap," Councilman Matthew Walter said.

The adopted budget is $70,437 under the town tax cap, almost $50,000 more than was projected in the tentative spending plan.

Councilman Ronald Ruffino Sr. was the lone "no" vote on the budget, saying his decision was linked to "the salaries involved."

Nearly 12 non-union town employees will receive raises closely mirroring ones approved for more than 60 unionized workers under new contracts, and Ruffino again took issue with that. "I'm not saying they shouldn't get raises, but there should be some other structure," he said. "My whole goal is to keep everybody employed ... But if my back is against the wall and we don't have the money for it, we could have to let people go."

The tax levy is dropping by $49,341 from the projected amount in the tentative budget. More money from the surplus fund balance are being appropriated so less money is raised through taxes, Coleman said after the meeting.

 

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