by Susan Mikula Campbell
The Town of Niagara Town Board is expected to vote on its 2013 budget at the 7 p.m. regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
"We're still working on it. One more budget meeting (currently scheduled for Monday) and we should be all right," Deputy Supervisor Marc Carpenter said.
If the board should need another review meeting, Tuesday's final vote could be delayed, but final budget approval is due to the state by Nov. 20, he said.
The budget currently stands at $7,287,887, with $2,092,936 to be raised from taxes.
"If the Town Board makes a serious attempt to right-size the town workforce, it will guarantee financial stability in the years moving forward," said Supervisor Steve Richards after Monday's public hearing on the budget.
Other than the board, the only person present at the hearing was the Tribune editor.
Currently, the budget includes a tax increase of 3.5 percent for homeowners ($4.98 to $5.15 per $1,000 assessed value) and a 3.1 percent increase for the business/non-homestead rate ($8.77 to $9.04 per $1,000).
Richards said he expects the town's share of sales tax to decline despite the fact that Fashion Outlets is in the town, due to loss of population (about 500 residents, according to the latest census). The county bases sales tax distribution on population, not where the sales tax is collected.
No raises for elected officials or non-union employees are included. The CSEA contract has yet to be settled. No layoffs are in the current budget proposal.
•In Wheatfield where a tax decrease is expected for 2013, there have been no proposals to change the $12,053 million preliminary budget as yet, according to Supervisor Bob Cliffe, but there may be some changes resulting from the public hearing that was set for Wednesday evening (after the Tribune went to press).
If there were no suggested changes from the hearing the board wants to discuss, the budget could have won approval on Wednesday. Otherwise, a second opportunity for the board to vote on the budget will come next Thursday, Nov. 15.
"The preliminary budget is posted on our website along with Ed's summaries (Ed Mongold, budget director). I have not had a single call or question," Cliffe said.
The percentage decrease in the total tax levy for the preliminary 2013 budget is 7.5 percent, in large part due to an increase in the town's share of sales tax.
According to Mongold, on a typical home valued at $125,000, the taxes would be down 7.38 percent to $521.34 in 2013, compared to $562.89 in 2012.