by Susan Mikula Campbell
A public hearing on the Town of Niagara's 2014 budget drew only one speaker on Monday afternoon and the board decided by a 3-2 vote to table further discussion and vote on the budget at a later date.
Once again the speaker was from Belden Center. Tom Tierney of Rhode Island Avenue wanted to know what was planned for drainage, road repair and pocket parks in his area.
The following are budget work session dates as listed by Deputy Supervisor Danny Sklarski: Nov. 4, 6 and 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall.
The $7.73 million budget currently under consideration includes a 5.6 percent tax decrease for residential property owners and a 3.5 percent decrease for business property.
The board has until Nov. 20 to approve a budget. The next regular meeting is Nov. 19.
Sklarski and Supervisor Steve Richards voted against tabling a budget vote.
After the meeting Richards said, "To me, it appears that they are playing political football with the town budget. It appears to me they have some employees they're going to target after the election and they don't have the nerve to make the cuts before the election."
Richards said he believes the other three board members have the Parks Department in its sights, taking away $200,000 that comes from other sources (not taxes), which would mean no more fireworks, concerts or fishing derbies.
Councilman Marc Carpenter said, "In order for us to vote on the budget, we would have had to have called for a 'special' Town Board meeting in advance in order for us to even consider adopting the 2014 budget. ... Furthermore, we were not ready to adopt the final budget yet because of a number of items that we still need to discuss in more detail. One item we are trying to focus on is getting a total cost for upgrading and replacing the old pump that had gone down during our recent flooding issues we had in Belden Center. We also need to further discuss on what additional monies that will be needed before we can even start to implement a plan to fix the all the drainage and road issues that are in the Belden Center area."
"The board is still waiting for some additional information from department heads. We need to make some much needed updates," said Councilman Rob Clark. "I can also say that we are not looking to remove any parks or recreation money. If anything we are looking for additional funding from other sources. And, no employees' jobs are in any danger."