Budget includes decline in town tax rate
Board OKs change to town retirees Medicare plan
By Terry Duffy
News on the Lewiston Town Park planned for Lower River Road continued Monday, as Town Engineer Robert Lannon discussed the proposed site plan as well as an upcoming spring 2021 timeframe for construction of an access roadway at the park.
“These by and large follow very, very closely to that concept plan that was approved by the Town Board back in mid-October,” Lannon said as he presented the park site plan for Town Board review. He commented the proposed plan covers such areas as the roadway, drainage and curbing as well as logistical construction details.
“Once the Town Board has any comments, please provide them to me,” Lannon said. He noted feedback would be included in the bid set that is still in development. Actual advertising for bids will take place over the winter months to allow for a spring construction. “It would also allow the town, Dave Trane and his crew, weather-permitting, to get in and start construction of the actual roadway. That would be the first activity that you’ll see out there once the Town Board approves the plan.”
Lannon said a stormwater pollution prevention plan has been prepared and signed for submission to the state Department of Environmental Conservation for review. “We had a little back and forth on a couple of minor questions from the DEC. Those have since been all resolved and addressed.”
Lannon estimated construction of the riverfront road for the park at $474,000.
“This is with the town Highway Department essentially constructing the roadway,” he said.
Lannon closed his discussion on the matter by informing the board he would forward the front end of the bid contract to Attorney for the Town Thomas Seaman for his review.
No board action was taken that night toward issuance of any bids for the town park project, with review of the site plan still to come.
In other news, the Town Board moved on adoption of its $18,353,414 budget for 2021. It follows a public hearing on the plan held last Thursday, where Finance/Budget Officer Jacqueline Agnello presented a plan that forecasts cuts as well as some increases once adopted. Reviewing the numbers, Agnello said the A Lewiston general whole town account is $2,922,831 in appropriations; $2,141,626 in estimated revenues, $49,283 in appropriated fund balance, and $731,922 to be raised by taxes. This reflects a decline of $6,990, down 0.9460%, and a total decreased tax rate of $0.0160 – minus 1.89% – from the 2020 adopted plan.
In the part town tax – outside village account (DB-highway drainage), it shows $3,104,146 in increased appropriations, $2,717,796 in estimated revenues, $82,000 in appropriated fund balance and $304,350 to be raised by taxes. This reflects an increase of $24,755, a change of 8.8539%, and a tax rate of $0.0309, 7.96% from the 2020 adopted plan.
And in the town’s SF fire protection account under special districts, it shows $1,490,890 in appropriations, $2,507 in estimated revenues, $0 in appropriated fund balance and $1,488,383 to be raised by taxes. This reflects a decline of $12,532 (minus 0.8350%) and a total decreased tax rate of $0.0342 (minus 1.67%) from the 2020 adopted plan.
Agnello presented tax rate examples for a $200,000 assessed property in select Lewiston neighborhoods both above and below the hill, including the Village of Lewiston. Lewiston’s assessed valuations of properties are not at 100% full assessment throughout the town, so there are some variations.
For a $200,000 assessed property on Powell Lane, she said the total decrease in the flat rates was $3.9201, reflecting a total decreased tax rate of $0.0334. Divided by $1,000 of assessed valuation, it shows a total dollar of tax rate decrease of $6.68 and a total decrease of $10.60 to the Town of Lewiston.
For a $200,000 assessed property on North Hewitt Drive above the hill, she said the total decrease in the flat rates was $3.92, reflecting a total decreased tax rate of $0.0155. Divided by $1,000 of assessed valuation, it shows a total dollar of tax rate decrease of $3.10 and a total decrease of $7.02 to the Town of Lewiston.
And for a $200,000 assessed property in the Village of Lewiston, she said the total decrease in the flat rates was $0, reflecting a total decreased tax rate of $0.0160. Divided by $1,000 of assessed valuation, it shows a total dollar of tax rate decrease of $3.20 and a total decrease of $3.20 to the Town of Lewiston.
A second public hearing held last Thursday involved consideration of a one-year contract for the fire protection districts, by town fire companies at the following rates: Sanborn – $323,601; Lewiston No. 2 – $323,601; and Upper Mountain – $323,601. Lewiston No. 1 was not included, as it sees partial funding by the Village of Lewiston.
That contract was approved soon after by the board.
Commenting on the board’s adoption of the budget Monday, Supervisor Steve Broderick said, “Jacquie worked hard, the department heads worked hard, I think everybody in the town worked hard. I think that everybody saw the writing on the wall; it’s been a strange year altogether.”
He noted the fire companies “were very cordial to not negotiating a new contract,” opting to stick with the older one. “We (also) got a good response from all the nonprofits that we support; they understood, so across the board we were good.”
In other news from the session:
•The board approved the purchase of a new grinder pump for the Lewiston Police Department/town parks building at Swann/Herald roads. The pump was said to address standing water issues in the building as well as enable LPD to maintain its patrol cars. Funding for the $3,500 grinder will come from the LPD equipment account.
•The board also approved resolution presented by Broderick for changes to the out-of-network provisions for the town retirees Medicare plans affecting those age 65 and older.
“We have numerous people that never use it; it’s part of the plan that hasn’t been used so we want to remove that,” he said.
Broderick explained it would assist people who do not use it while also providing “considerable savings for the town,” estimated at nearly $25,000 according to attorney Seaman.
“It will not change any type of the benefits that the retirees are currently receiving,” Seaman said.
•The board approved the hire of Cheryl Horn as secretary for the Bureau of Fire Prevention. Horn is scheduled to start Nov. 16 at $14.43 per hour and will also serve as secretary to the Lewiston Environmental Commission.