Tax cut ahead in Wheatfield budgetby jmaloni
by Susan Mikula Campbell
Wheatfield residents dealing with continually rising costs in food, gas and other areas will have at least one spot where the cost will be down in 2013.
Those attending the 7 p.m. budget public hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 7, will hear about a proposed decrease in the tax levy. The budget also is posted on the town's website or can be viewed at the town clerk's office.
Ed Mongold, budget director, said the budget for 2013 currently stands at $12,053,812. That's up from $11,880,565 in 2012. However, revenues are up for the coming year, primarily because of an increase in the town's share of county sales tax. Also affecting costs are the success of the town's large bin recycling program and the recent bid for garbage collection that came in lower than what the town had been paying.
Mongold said the overall tax levy decrease is 7.55 percent. On a typical home valued at $125,000, the tax rate would be down $41.55 per $1,000 assessed value or 7.38 percent. That would mean a total of $521.34 in taxes for 2013, compared to $562.89 in 2013.
If, after the Nov. 7 public hearing, the Town Board decides to approve the budget without further change, a vote will be taken at the regular meeting scheduled after the public hearing, Supervisor Bob Cliffe said. Another meeting will be set for Nov. 15 if more time is needed before the final budget vote. The next regular meeting after the budget vote will be Nov. 26.
Cliffe said there were some reductions in the budget originally presented, but nothing drastic.
Among proposed additions to the budget is the hiring of a second Niagara County Sheriff's deputy to help patrol the town. Wheatfield, already has the standard sheriff's patrol provided to all towns in the county, plus an extra deputy hired by the town and dedicated to Wheatfield.
"Having a second deputy to patrol the town will give us the ability to have somebody out there on weekends and evenings and give us a little more coverage," Cliffe said.
The board is also adding back to the budget an employee for the Highway Department to replace a former employee who died about two years ago and whose position wasn't included in the 2012 budget.
Councilman Larry Helwig complimented Mongold and Cliffe on an "excellent job" putting the 2013 budget together.
In other matters:
•Cliffe warned residents that coyotes are already active this year in the town. One resident near Mario Park called to say she had seen five "wolves" in her back yard and they had killed an animal.
"Keep your pets inside," Cliffe warned. "I doubt they will attack during the day, but they will come out at night."
•Building Inspector Joe Caturia reported a substantial increase in build permits compared to last year. New single-family home permits are up to 64, compared to 37 the previous year.
•The professionally prepared maps of the four options for a Town Center development of property owned by the town adjacent to the Town Hall campus was displayed by Economic Development Focus Group. The maps will be shown on the town's website and at Town Hall. Next step will be to seek proposals from developers. The maps show various options by the committee ranging from a recreation plan concentrating on ball fields, soccer fields, concessions and maintenance to a town square plan concentrating on commercial and residential development. The plans also include a library, and each plan has some form of walking path. The board is expected to decide which of the four maps is preferred in November.