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Town of Niagara budget gets OK

by jmaloni
Thu, Nov 18th 2010 03:00 pm
by Susan Mikula Campbell

With no fanfare, the Town of Niagara Town Board on Tuesday passed its $7.3 million budget for 2011, with only one councilman voting against it.

"This budget is bare bones," said Supervisor Steve Richards, adding that aside from normal cost of living increases and a 2 percent raise for employees, "the only increases were state mandates and county mandates -- costs pushed onto the town."

Richards said the 2011 budget total is $265,702.74 less than the 2010 budget. However, due to changes in the state base proportioning rates, the tax rates will go up in the town. Homestead (residential) will go up 2.3 percent, which on a average home assessed at $60,000 will be about $6 more a year, he said. The non-homestead (business rate) will go up about 4 percent, which on a business assessed at $200,000 will mean about $40 per year.

"The municipality of the Town of Niagara puts good budgets up," said Richards, adding that a major part of the reason Moody's increased the town's bond rating recently despite tough economic times. "I've always been a believer you don't play games with the budget. When costs go up, you have to raise the taxes or you end up with a deficit."

No one from the public spoke about the budget prior to the vote. Councilman Charles Teixeira said he voted against the budget because there were a few line items that he didn't come to full agreement on with his fellow board members, so he decided that in good conscience he couldn't cast a favorable vote. He declined to elaborate.

In other matters:

  • The town may eliminate seven part-time jobs in the town court office in 2012 and replace those jobs with two full-time, Civil Service court clerk positions. The move is due to declining revenues from the courts, down about $100,000, Richards said.

"We discussed this last year, and they still haven't done anything to fix the situation," said Councilman Rob Clark.

Richards said if the caseload goes up, more people could be hired.

  • James E. Mann of Taylor Drive spoke asking that the town abandon the roads for both Taylor Drive and Thomas Court. He already owns three and a half acres there and is in the process of purchasing another eight acres on both sides of Taylor. With the abandonment, he hopes to be able to prevent people from racing their cars there and stop illegal dumping of everything from sofas to washtubs at the far end of Taylor. He has been doing the snow plowing and grass cutting there himself.

There have been questions since the 1950s on whether or not the two roads were actually town roads. The board approved turning the matter over to its attorney to do a title search.

  • The board, on Richards' recommendation, declined joining the area's Stormwater Coalition for a five-year period. Richards said the board shouldn't tie the hands of future boards (beyond their own elected terms). "On a personal note, I think it's a bunch of hot air from Erie County," he said.
  • The board approved the renewal of the liquor license for Donna's Landing on Saunders Settlement Road and the junkyard license for Kach's Auto on Witmer Road.
  • The board approved holding its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Dec. 14 next month.

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