By Lauren Zaepfel
Autumn is the season for pumpkin pie, apple picking and, of course, budget talks.
The 2016 Town of Niagara proposed budget was distributed during Monday's board meeting by Town Supervisor Lee Wallace, who highlighted a few pertinent points.
First, the total overall budget as submitted was revealed to be $8,451,957, of which the amount to be raised by taxes is $1,956,064.
What does this mean for taxpayers?
"The overall budget increase from 2015 is $39,561, which amounts to a slight increase - 48 cents per thousand increase for homestead and 0.07 cents per thousand increase for non-homestead," Wallace said. "The budget is $1,368 below the New York state government efficiency tax cap for 2016, which, even though they say is a 2 percent tax, it's really in reality this year 0.74 percent, and that's tied directly to the cost of living in the state."
As for the various town department heads, Wallace cut $895,291 from the budgets they submitted, including:
•$297,587 from the general fund
•$593,571 from highway
•$108,060 from water
•$106,160 from sewer
•$72,500 from fire
•$15,000 from lighting
The preliminary budget includes the following salaries for elected officials:
•Council member (four), $13,030.00
•Town clerk, $47,775.00
•Highway superintendent, $55,394
•Justice (two), $26,679.50
"I think it's reasonable. Personally, we did use some fund balance, but we didn't use a lot developing this," Wallace said of the proposed budget. "I think it's fiscally irresponsible for us to continue to take money consistently out of our fund balances, as we can do it without going over the cap, and we did, and it's still a good budget and it's a solid budget."
Together, Wallace and councilmen Charles F. Teixeira and Danny Sklarski agreed to set a resolution to call for a public hearing for the tentative budget at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, as part of the next board meeting.