by Terry Duffy
The Town of Lewiston continues in the preliminary stage for its 2012 budget, as department heads finalize and submit requests on a tentative $15.6 million spending plan, portions of which are expected to be discussed on Monday, Oct. 24.
That evening the Town Board also will hold a public hearing at 5:30 p.m., prior to its regular meeting, to consider an override by Lewiston of the state's 2 percent property tax cap.
"We have had town increases. We have to figure out how to adjust," stated Town Supervisor Steve Reiter to board members last month. It was revealed at its Sept. 26 session that the Town of Lewiston, which in past years has not had any town tax, is facing increased costs whose impact would be above the 2 percent cap threshold imposed by the state for property owners
"We have to approve to go above and beyond on one line," said Finance Director Michael Johnson.
To be considered Monday will be board approval to raise the town's refuse fee to $70 per household, an increase of $35 to address the latest increases in its contract with Modern Disposal. Johnson reported that past increases in the Modern contract were absorbed via the town's recycling fund. For 2012, "Under Modern's contract it goes to $70 per household annually," said Johnson, "which equates to $1.34 per week for garbage pickup." He pegged the town's refuse cost for 2012 to be $319,000.
Under provisions of the tax cap measure imposed earlier this year on municipalities by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, there are measures contained to adjust for increases in spending. State finance law allows for municipalities to override the tax cap to cover increases by means of a 60 percent majority approval of its governing council or board and the passing of a local law. No voter approval is required.
Johnson stressed that for Lewiston property owners, refuse is the only increase contained in what is an otherwise low-key town budget for 2012.
By the numbers, in appropriations the budget provides for $2.9 million to the general fund; $2.8 million to general/outside village; $2.4 million for highway/drainage - town, outside village and $1.9 million for the Lewiston Water Pollution Control Center. All are funded with no tax to town property owners.
In special districts' appropriations: $1.836 million for Lewiston water improvement; $1.185 million for fire protection; $1.812 million for Lewiston master sewer; $299,705 for Lewiston south sewer; $19,317 for Lewiston Heights sewer; and the aforementioned $319,000 in refuse costs. Johnson said the appropriations for fire, Lewiston master sewer, Lewiston south sewer and Lewiston Heights gas bring no charges for property owners.
Refuse and others are expected to be discussed at Monday's session.
The Town Board has until Nov. 20 to adopt its 2012 budget.