by Autumn Evans
The Town of Wheatfield adopted its 2015 preliminary budget at Monday's Town Board meeting.
Taxes went down by 0.26 percent, amounting to about a $1.26 reduction for a homeowner with a $125,000 home. The total expenditure is just under $12.7 million, an increase of 0.83 percent. Compared to the 2014 budget, the sewer fund went down by 1.37 percent and the garbage district down by 0.8 percent, while the fire protection district rose by 0.93 percent.
"The difference comes from added growth of assets, our properties in town, the assessed value of our overall town," said Supervisor Bob Cliffe. "So even though we're spending a little more, we're taxing a little less."
There were some increases from the tentative budget. The Highway Department requested an additional $80,000 for paving and salting roads. The general fund received increases for records, retentions and other projects, including rebuilding the town's website. The fire protection district's extra funds will increase pay for the town's firefighters, who Cliffe said are some of the lowest paid firefighters in the area.
Cliffe also reported the town's long-term debt had decreased to about $9.25 million, from the $15.6 million it stood at when he took office.
"The trend is good, I think it's good for all Wheatfield residents and taxpayers alike," he said.
The budget passed unanimously.
In other Town Board news:
•Paul Siegmann, who was sworn in as highway superintendent Friday, Oct. 31, spoke about leaf and brush pickup. He asked residents to avoid placing leaves around telephone poles, and to separate brush from leaves.
•The board again held off on voting on a revision to the town's biosolids law in order to allow the fire board, who would be the first responders, to review it. Cliffe also reported the board received a challenge to the proposed amendment from Agriculture Markets on behalf of Milleville Farms.
"We've been expecting this," Cliffe said. "We believe in our law, we believe it's the right law, and we believe we can defend it."
•Sharon Downie, an opponent of Cobblestone Creek, said she asked the town about raising the elevation of her property by bringing in fill.
"I was told I probably couldn't do it because I would flood out my neighbors," Downie said. The statement was met with laughter from the public. "I just wondered, why do I have to ask permission to raise the level of my own property and it's not okay because I may affect my neighbors, but when Cobblestone wants to come in and raise the level four or five feet, it doesn't matter what they do to us?"
Cliffe said Cobblestone did have to go through the same process, which was causing a halt in development.
•The board announced construction on the Errick Road bridge could be completed later this month. The contractor, Site Services, will replace the pipes in three weeks, weather permitting.