by Joshua Maloni
Trustees took no action on Monday's two biggest agenda items, opting instead to listen to residents and incorporate their suggestions into final decisions.
The Village of Lewiston Board tabled a motion to adopt a $3.18 million budget for 2011-12, which calls for a tax rate increase of 95 cents - from $6.24 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $7.19.
"We hope to lower it somewhat more before our next meeting," Mayor Terry Collesano told those in attendance at the work session. The board has until May 1 to adopt the budget. Trustees meet again at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 18.
While the tax rate may not be $7.19, Collesano warned the amount would be higher than in previous years for a number of reasons:
•New York state retirement costs increased 27 percent, to $23,889.
•The Lewiston Police Department budget increased 16.9 percent, to $281,710. The village is responsible for almost a quarter of the overall $1.2 million police budget.
•Fire company service awards and health exams increased 9 percent, to $7,600.
•Health insurance fees increased 8.5 percent, to $17,510.
Other costs include:
•$38,600 for the village's share of the new, $3.5 million Water Pollution Control Center (the municipality is responsible for $950,000, which will be paid in 25 annual installments).
•$17,000 in principal and interest stemming from a 2009 lawsuit settlement.
•$16,530 in new computer equipment.
•$7,328 for a new truck and van.
"There are some things we have to address, whether we want to or not," Collesano said.
He noted the board "held the line as far as regular expenses go." Collesano said village employees would receive a 3 percent wage increase, but trustees wouldn't see a raise in pay.
The board tabled the budget vote, Collesano said, "so we have time to think about some of the remarks made here this evening."
Trustees also tabled a motion to amend local motor vehicle and traffic laws to ban parking on residential property and along South Fourth Street and its side roads on Tuesday nights during Artpark's summer concert season.
Village of Lewiston Police Commissioner Al Soluri said the rationale behind the proposed changes is simple: "Artpark requires the parking ordinance to alleviate the problems caused by the excessive amount of traffic."
With crowds ranging from a few thousand to upwards of 25,000, Soluri and Lewiston Police Chief Chris Salada both said it takes around two hours to clear traffic exiting Artpark's two parking lots onto Center Street.
The board took no action following comments from village residents John and Theresa Tourbin, Rick Haight and Jennifer Pauly from the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce, and former Trustee Ron Craft. (See related story link below)
Hibbard's Land Purchase
Trustees came to an agreement with Harold Hibbard Jr. over 11,016 square feet of parking lot asphalt adjacent to Hibbard's Original Frozen Custard on Center Street and Portage Road. H.S. Hibbard and Sons sought the land to use in conjunction with a renovation of the ice cream stand.
The board approved a motion that described the former village right-of-way as a "useless public thoroughfare" and the decision to sell as being "in the best interest of the public."
Trustees sold the parcel for $8,000 plus transfer fees. Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland said that figure was based on the $2,500 the state of New York paid the Hibbard family for the land in September 1976. That money, when adjusted for inflation, equaled $9,605. Sutherland said the board offered Hibbard a discount based on past maintenance work.
Hibbard is expected to present a revised renovation plan to the Planning Board on Monday (6:30 p.m., Village of Lewiston Hall). His family seeks to add indoor seating and lunch and dinner menus to the popular custard stand.