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Town of Tonawanda unveils preliminary 2018 budget

The closing of the Huntley power plant and health care costs are just a few reasons Town of Tonawanda businesses could see an increase in their 2018 tax bills, for the first time in three years.

Homeowners would also see a slight increase.

Town Supervisor Joseph H. Emminger on Monday presented a $102 million preliminary budget to the Town Board, including a proposed 2.19 percent tax increase, which is under the town's state cap of 3.4 percent.

At the town's equalization rate of 39 percent, the average home in the town assessed at $50,000 will see an annual tax increase of about $29, rising from $1,287 to $1,316.

The overall budget has increased 1.2 percent, from the current $100.8 million budget.

Emminger said the most significant increases are medical costs for employees, retirees and their families — a proposed $19 million which represents 18.6 percent of the budget and has become a sore spot in current union negotiations.

The town is also making payments to the New York State pension plan of $7.7 million, Emminger said.

Other rising costs were attributed to maintaining an aging town infrastructure and an increase in debt payments for several state-mandated sewer projects.

Emminger said 2018 will mark the second year that the town will tap into the state mitigation fund to assist it in the transition from the loss of over $2 million in annual revenues following the closure of the Huntley plant in 2016.

In 2018, the state will decrease its aid by 10 percent, or approximately $200,000.

But on the positive side, Emminger touted the services provided by its town. He said there will be no cuts in services.

Emminger said there has also been real growth in its commercial and industrial base for "the first time in decades" and he said that despite this year's proposed increase, the town had an overall decrease in the business tax in the past three years and it can "continue to be an attractive destination for companies to relocate and expand in our community."

The Town Board has to adopt the final budget. The board will have two budget workshops on Oct. 10 and 11 at 7 p.m.

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