By David Yarger
The Town of Wheatfield Town Board spent a brief time presenting their tentative $13,209,690 budget at the regular meeting on Monday night.
Supervisor Robert Cliffe admitted that board members had not reviewed the plan enough to yet answer questions about it at Monday's meeting, but over the coming weeks the members would gain more information and be able to address any questions or concerns.
The plan shows that tax levies for the typical homeowner (assessed at $125,000) will have a slight decrease of 0.16 percent, saving them .77 cents.
Cliffe said, "If approved as is, we still have no general tax and no highway tax for homes nor businesses. We will be using $1.4 million in fund balance of the approximate $2.3 million to keep it that way."
Cliffe added, the departments have been successful year in and year out in not spending to their limits.
Cliffe said, in regard to citizens "The only thing you have to worry about is that we are using fund balance to keep taxes down. One of the reasons you want fund balance is to protect yourself in the event that there is a disaster and we have to be able to pay for it.
"Right now, we're somewhere around $2.3 million worth of fund balance and moving forward we're selecting $1.4 million of that in this budget as fund balance. We know that if we continue working forward the way we've worked the last eight years, we won't spend all the money in this year's budget."
He added there will be a public hearing about the budget on Nov. 6, where the public can come and voice their opinion or make suggestions. Cliffe added the board could pass the budget after that meeting.
In other news, David Godfrey, County Legislator for the 10th District, spoke to the board about a rural broadband initiative that hopes to bring broadband to all of Niagara County.
Godfrey said the lawsuit against Charter Communications was settled for $13 million by the Public Service Commission. One of the requirements of the settlement was to provide a way for people to find out when/if broadband would be coming to their neighborhood.
Godfrey said, "What's changed is that when we looked at our maps from the broadband office almost a year ago, the areas they said they were gonna cover, I'm finding are not gonna be covered in this first year build up."
He said work is still being done with Spectrum to see if Niagara County will be 95-98 percent covered, which is what was guaranteed.
The board moved to pass three motions from the constable department, which included ammunition, holsters and batons. Cliffe was happy to move the motion for batons, saying it gives the officers extra protection.
The Town Board accepted the highest bid for a property on Ontario Drive, for $105,733.
The board also accepted a $5,000 grant to be used for a veteran's monument in Fairmount Park.
The board moved to execute a Shared Services Agreement between the New York State Department of Transportation and the Town of Wheatfield for two more years.
Cliffe best explained this move as two departments helping each other out.
"If there's a minor project here that's a state problem, we can't help them. But, through this agreement, with the permission of the director, we can say 'We need to get this pipe fixed,' (and if the state says) 'We can't fix it for six months,' 'I need to get this fixed today, do I have permission to get it fixed?' If they say yes, the state will pay for us to do their work.
"The alternative is, if we can't do it because we don't have the equipment and they do, the alternative is, up to $10,000, they can approve. It's a simple back-and-forth between the Highway Department and whoever the boss is on the other side," he said.
The board also moved for motions aimed for kids Monday night. The board members approved a motion to establish an "Open Pickleball" program ran by the Recreation Department. The board also approved to set the hours for trick-or-treating on Halloween from 4-8 p.m.
The board approved a late motion from Wendel, the town's engineers, that authorized company to add two additional routes to the Greenway trail for an amount not to exceed $10,000.
Near the conclusion of the meeting, Councilman Larry Helwig said the board was invited to the Buffalo Museum of Science, where members were honored by the Buffalo Niagara Coalition for Open Government. The town was honored for the work they've done on the official website, as it was one of two municipalities in all of Western New York that had a passing grade for the site.
Helwig said, "Our Wheatfield department heads ... you're putting a lot of meat and potatoes on our website and it's good because it scores a high grade. If you don't keep putting new content up there, people won't go up there."
The board will have a budget work session at 5 p.m. Oct. 11, and its next regular town board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16.