by Terry Duffy
Beyond Artpark, Monday's Lewiston Town Board discussions transgressed to a number of other areas - just about all of them budget-related.
By the numbers, the adopted 2015 $16.037 million plan totals $10.290 million in appropriations - $2.439 million in general; $3.024 million in general/outside village; $2.841 million in highway/drainage-town outside village; and $1.984 million in SS1 - Water Pollution Control Center. All accounts carry $0 to be raised by taxes.
Special districts accounts totaled $5.747 million. They are broken down as follows: SW1 - Lewiston water improvement, $1.904 million, with $479,300 to be raised by taxes; SF - fire protection, $1.375 million, with $1.278 million to be raised by taxes; SS2 - LMSIA, $1.765 million, with $218,402 to be raised by taxes; SS3 - Lewiston south sewer, $361,411, with $191,847 to be raised by taxes; SL - Lewiston heights, $14,000, with $8,000 to be raised by taxes; and SR - refuse, $327,040, with $327,040 to be raised by taxes.
No. 1 in Town Board discussions was the highway budget. Following what seemed like a never-ending debate over spending needs and money between Highway Superintendent Doug Janese and Town Board members, the $2.841 million highway spending plan for 2015 was adopted - a slight drop from the tentative $2.863 million tentative plan presented in October.
Highlights of the highway budget, according to Town Finance Officer Paul Kloosterman, include: a total of $20,000 added to the salary account to cover overtime costs for the 16 full-time highway department employees; and a transfer of $40,000 from the highway machinery account to equipment/snow plowing contractual to cover the town's snow plowing needs for the upcoming winter.
Other budget-related highlights include:
•Lewiston Police budget numbers totaled $1.010 million, down 3.16 percent. The LPD personnel line totaled $875,000, a 0.12 percent drop.
It was reported at Monday's session that the town is pursuing a five-year agreement on LPD union contract negotiations. Specifics would see retroactive increases of 2 percent for 2013 and 2014, a 2 percent increase for 2015 and 1.5 percent increases in 2016 and 2017. Kloosterman reported the town could see savings in insurance under the new deal. It has yet to be finalized.
•The board approved the purchase of a new senior van for the Lewiston Senior Center from Gorman Enterprises at a cost of $52,882. Funding would be covered via a transfer of two town accounts.
•Discussions of a 2 percent across-the-board raise for town employees, beyond those given to union employees, were heard at the session, but no action was taken.
Kloosterman came out dead set against the idea, arguing the town was not in a situation to take on salary increases. "Lewiston, across the board, has the highest paid employees in Niagara County," he said.
"It's a structural issue in the town. It's irresponsible," he added.
The town will hold a public hearing on the 2015 budget from 6 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 8, at Town Hall. The town needs to file a final budget with the state by Nov. 20.