Public comment sought on Wheatfield budgetby jmaloni
by Susan M. Campbell
The Wheatfield Town Board is asking community members to bring their comments and suggestions on the town's preliminary 2014 budget to a public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at Town Hall.
At Monday's regular board meeting, Supervisor Bob Cliffe said the preliminary budget should be available for public viewing after it goes to the town clerk on Oct. 29.
The preliminary budget will include changes that will reduce taxes a bit more than the $12.48 million tentative budget Cliffe and budget director Ed Mongold presented at the end of September. That budget would have provided an estimated $29.28 savings on a home valued at $125,000.
Board members have been meeting with department heads to go over the budget and have made some further adjustments, already bringing the budget to $12.45 million and the total estimated tax reduction to 4.8 percent. For instance, the town clerk had asked for $5,000 for digitizing records, but Councilman Larry Helwig suggested that might be funded by a grant.
Both budgets include the elimination of the town's highway tax, which has been reduced in recent years.
"It's basically maintaining all the services we've had," Cliffe said of the budget. "The board has the ultimate decision on whether to make any further adjustments or not."
The board might choose to approve the preliminary budget after the public hearing or make some further adjustments and schedule a vote at a later date, Cliffe said. Final action is due by Nov. 20.
In other matters:
•Cliffe reported he had received a letter from RoseMary Warren of Sanborn praising the town's farmers market held in front of Town Hall. The market closed for the season earlier this month. There might be some changes ahead.
"It didn't go as well as we'd hoped," Cliffe said. "We have to see what the vendors say."
Each year, a meeting is held with vendors to discuss the past season and changes and improvements for the future.
•Another change might be ahead for residents who each year pick up mulch at the town's highway garage. Art Kroening, highway superintendent, said a big pile of branches, grass clippings, etc., to mulch has been collected, but the county's grinder is no longer available. Having a private company grind it is not likely to be cost effective, and if a company took away the ungrinded pile, the town would not get money for it, he said.
"We're looking to see what can be done," said Kroening said.
•The next regular meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4. It will be preceded by public hearings on amendments to the town code. At 7 p.m., a hearing will be held on requiring buffers by easement for residential uses in agricultural zones. The land for the easement will come from the new development, not the farmland. At 7:15 p.m., a hearing will be held on permitting assessment of past due building permit fees against the property for which the permit is requested. At 7:20 p.m., the hearing will be on permitting an additional fee for the extension of time within which to complete work on a building permit.