No money from fund balance taken for 2019
By David Yarger
Recently, the Town of Niagara Town Board sat down, reviewed and discussed the proposed 2019 budget. In front of the board members, Town Supervisor Lee Wallace presented a $8,750,012.88 budget, which is $273,985.12 less than the 2018 proposed budget.
The total amount to be raised by taxes is $2,299,326.88. The overall budget proposed amounts to a 14 cent/$1,000 (value) increase for homesteads and a 69 cents/$1,000 increase for non-homestead. The tentative budget is $957 below the New York state government efficiency tax cap for 2019.
There wasn't much different compared to last year's budget other than a few areas, such as the police department.
A big aspect Wallace was proud of was the budget used no money from the fund balance. Last year, there were some concerns of possibly too much fund balance spending. This year, with nothing coming out of any fund balance accounts for the budget, money will be available in the case of an emergency situation. Wallace said some departments will have to hang tight for the year and not use any money from the fund balance, that way it could build back up.
"It's the first time since the (tax) cap was installed that we've ever had a budget without any money coming out of the fund balance," Wallace said. He added he began work on the budget in March and said it's taken a lot of work.
"Over the last few years we've taken too much out of it (fund balance) to balance the budget. We did some things, we made some improvements, we paved some roads, but now we just had to back off a little bit for a while," Wallace said.
Wallace said the highway department has spent quite a bit of money from the fund balance, which were all necessary, but he said, "Unfortunately, this year coming up, we're gonna have to pull back a little. One year won't kill us."
With the town trying to build back up the fund balance, Wallace felt if the town could take as little as possible from the balance, money would build back up again. "One year at a time. You never know what the next year is going to bring. ... We're still trying to operate without a general fund tax. We're only one of two or three towns that operates that way."
Wallace also added that the sales tax has been down in the town and he cited the lack of Canadians coming over the border to the mall, because of the exchange rate.
Councilman Rich Sirianni was pleased with what he saw from the budget. Sirianni was a big advocate to reduce spending and made his point during last year's budget work sessions.
"All I've asked is to reduce so we can be cautious of the fund balance," Siranni said. Sirianni and the other board members agreed to schedule future meetings with department heads to walk them through the proposed budget.
Councilman Marc Carpenter felt the budget was pretty straightforward and said, "This budget looks like it's not a whole lot to tweak. It's really in good shape."
The budget vote is projected to take place Nov. 7. The board did not plan a future budget work session at Tuesday's meeting.
The next Town of Niagara Town Board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 23.