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Police pay raise part of what's causing Orchard Park's proposed tax hike

As a percent, the proposed tax rate increase looks hefty in Orchard Park: 9.82 percent for village property owners and 7.45 percent for those living outside the village.

The increase would amount to under $100 a year on the tax bill of a home that sells for $250,000, and Supervisor Patrick Keem said Town Board members are still working to reduce taxes.

Part of the reason taxes are proposed to go up next year in Orchard Park is last year's pay raise for police officers.

"This budget just reflects what is needed in the community," Supervisor Patrick Keem said. "Our Number One job in government is to provide safety and keep our residents safe."

Police had been working for three years without a contract or a raise. The town analyzed the compensation to officers in surrounding towns, and an agreement was reached after months of negotiations. The cumulative effect was about a 19 percent raise over five years, while officers agreed to increase their contribution to health insurance costs.

That amounts to an increase of $583,000 in next year's budget, Keem said. Pension payments for police are expected to be nearly $200,000 higher than this year as well, he said.

Spending is up in the general, public safety and highway funds about 7 percent to $24.21 million – while the tax levy for those funds is up 9.27 percent.

The tax rate for those living outside the Village of Orchard Park would be $7.34 per $1,000, up 7.45 percent. Village residents would pay $7.49 per $1,000, up 9.82 percent.

The tentative budget also proposes 2 percent raises for elected officials and most of the stipends several receive. The supervisor would make $81,330 plus $6,120 for budget officer; councilman, $21,591; town clerk, $68,233 plus $4,080 for being records management officer and $4,080 for registrar of vital statistics; town justice, $47,311; and highway superintendent, $77,080 plus $11,900 for being parks superintendent and $5,000 for being composting  superintendent.

A public hearing on the budget will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 24 in the boardroom in the Municipal Center. Public forums with a budget presentation will be conducted at 9 a.m. Nov. 3 and at 6 p.m. Nov. 5 in the boardroom. The Town Board plans to vote on the budget Nov. 7.

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