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Town of Niagara: Board meets to discuss 2018 budget

Fri, Nov 3rd 2017 03:15 pm
Board has differences about 2018 budget proposed
By David Yarger
Tribune Editor
On Monday night, Town of Niagara Town Board members, Charles Teixeira, Rich Sirianni, Marc Carpenter and Samuel Gatto met to discuss and look over the 2018 budget handed to them. The meeting was held to discuss differences that each board member may have with what was proposed.
The board had a few differences, including Councilman Sirianni wanting to cut 2 to 5 percent from the budget.
"We have lost a lot of fund balance. I believe we should be in emergency mode here, I think we should roll back every budget 2 to 5 percent," Sirianni said.
Councilman Gatto questioned Sirianni on why 5 percent. Sirianni said in 2015 only $18,241 was taken out of the fund balance and "that's the way it should be." Sirianni said, since then, the trend hasn't been good and in 2016 and 2017 $800,000 has been lost from the fund balance.
"If the last two years is any trend, and I don't know the number because I don't see it (2018 fund balance)... if this trend continues I would say in a year and a half, and I'm hoping it don't, we may be out of a fund balance. If we run out of a fund balance, we're gonna have to cut jobs, infrastructure will be lost... you're gonna have to increase taxes and you might have to institute a town tax. ... I can't just sit here and rubberstamp things when our fund balance in two years went down $800,000," Sirianni said.
In the meeting, the board agreed to increase and reduce a few budget items and when they did, the goal was to remain consistent with 2 percent increases or decreases.
Teixeira responded to reduction thoughts, saying, "I don't feel holding and freezing everything is right. When you look at the cost of running a town, it's going up every year, from purchasing black top to computer services the town receives. You can't plan for certain things and when things happen, you have to have money to be able to fix things, like a water main break. You don't wanna be in a situation where you can't fix that.
"To give a general statement that sounds good, you have to know the numbers for each reduction on each line. If there would've been an exact dollar amount, we could have went around and agree or disagreed. Department heads would also need to be contacted and see if they could handle the cuts and if they needed the amount they gave us to do the services they give this town."
Teixeira added, the overall budget is set at $8,993,501 and only $176,087 of it is taxes to homeowners for the services the town gives its citizens, which he said, "Is a small number and not a lot compared to our budget."
Teixeira said the budget handed to the board at the meeting already had $200,000 taken off of it by Supervisor Lee Wallace.
The meeting got heated late when Sirianni felt a position should be cut from the budget, saying it wasn't bringing in money. Gatto and Teixeira disagreed; saying the position involved has brought in money to the town. Sirianni went on to say the board's decisions were "destroying this town," and wished the board would've decided to cut the $21,000 position.
Councilman Carpenter later told the Tribune the meeting was "For actual fine tuning and/or tweaking of all the line items in the budget. Some of the budgets have been OK'd, but nothing has been officially approved yet. We can and may still go back into the budget work session where we can still move things around or tweak things like salary and raises, etc."
Carpenter added the board hopes to approve the budget by Nov. 8, but more budget work sessions can be held if the board wants to discuss anything further. The Town Board has a work session scheduled for Nov. 8.

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