New garbage contract key in 3.81% tax increase
By David Yarger
On Monday, the Town of Wheatfield held a public hearing on and approved its $13,791,040 budget for 2019.
The public hearing drew one light question from the audience, but was closed following remarks from Wheatfield Supervisor Don MacSwan.
MacSwan said for a typical homeowner in the Town of Wheatfield there, will be a tax levy increase compared to 2018 - from $486.45 to $504.98 in 2019. The jump is an increase of 3.81 percent ($18.53/$125,000 assessment).
MacSwan said, "The tax levy increase for 2019 is due primarily to the substantial increase in our garbage/recycling costs, which was an increase of $242,000, which is a considerable increase. ... It's important to note that the $18.53 is an increase for the typical homeowner - of the vast majority of it, $17.03 is from the garbage district, due to the increase in our garbage and recycling costs."
MacSwan added it's the first time in five years that the town has not made a reduction in the "surplus" fund (fund balance). Councilman Larry Helwig chimed in and said reports from the audit showed the town brought in more revenue than expenditures for the first time in five years.
MacSwan replied, "In the long term, it represents the town better for any financial situations that may come around, because we're not depleting our surplus. ... It's a good thing that we are not tapping into reserve funding for 2019."
The one question from the audience came near the end of the hearing from former Town Councilman Arthur Gerbec, who inquired about the town's fund balance.
Budget Director Ed Mongold replied, "It's going to be approximately $3,600,000 for all funds and districts, not just the general fund."
The budget can be viewed at wheatfield.ny.us.
In other news:
•The Town Board listened to a presentation from Tom Kontak in regard to the town's helicopter project. The military helicopter, which sits in front of the Highway Department, has taken some damage in 25 years, Kontak said.
Kontak said there are holes in the helicopter, problems with insulation, doors, and there was an infiltration of birds nests, which Kontak summed up to approximately two hay bales. He also displayed the rear elevator of the helicopter to the board, which had undertaken some serious damage and needed to be replaced.
Back in June, Kontak and Gerbec began working to fix and clean up the helicopter. Kontak said there is now a group of eight people, all veterans, who meet on Saturdays to work on anything possible to help the upkeep of the chopper.
The group is seeking support from the Town Board for the project. Kontak said there has been support from around the town.
"Were getting that (support)," Kontak said. "We have very good people here in the Town of Wheatfield, without a doubt."
As veterans, Kontak said he and the group of volunteers want nothing more than to see the chopper in tip-top shape.
"Everybody is a vet, and everybody it's truly, truly vested in doing this and seeing that is put back together as best as we possibly can.
"With that ... we will need the Town Board to step up and give us a hand. There's going to be no two ways about that. I don't know if it will be monetary or other wise, maybe it will just be your connections," Kontak said.
Kontak ended with the quote, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country."
MacSwan replied to Kontak's presentation and said, "I have not worked on the helicopter, but I will say this - I'm sure that the Town of Wheatfield will do what we have to do to support you guys in your efforts for that helicopter. ... I appreciate what you guys do, I really do."
•Highway Superintendent Paul Siegmann reminded town residents that the winter parking ban is going into effect. The effect runs from 2 a.m. to 6 p.m. beginning Nov. 15 through April 1. Siegmann said tickets will be issued to violators and in some cases may lead to towing. Constable Brian Kroening affirmed Siegmann's statement, and said the constables will be on the look out for violators and will issue tickets.
•Recreation Director Mike Ranalli announced the town's senior dance is at 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 17.
•The next Town Board meeting will begin at 6:45 p.m. Nov. 26, with a public information session from the Department of Transportation to discuss upcoming closure of Shawnee Road. There will also be a public hearing on proposed changes to street lighting requirements of town code chapter 169.