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The Village of Lewiston Red Brick Municipal Building. (File photo)
The Village of Lewiston Red Brick Municipal Building. (File photo)

Village of Lewiston Board looking to avoid tax increase

by jmaloni
Fri, Apr 1st 2022 11:25 am

Trustees will likely vote on 2022-23 budget at Monday’s work session

By Joshua Maloni

GM/Managing Editor

The Village of Lewiston intends to pass along its accrued savings to residents.

With a ballooning fund balance, the prospect of additional revenues, and a decade of underspending under their belts, trustees are expected to keep the tax rate at $7.76 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

Treasurer Stephanie Longwell presented the first draft of the proposed 2022-23 budget during a special board meeting held Monday afternoon in the Red Brick Municipal Building. Longwell estimates the total budget to be $4,489,955, which is an increase of about $400,000 from the current fiscal year.

“I have proposed to not raise taxes and use some of the fund balance, because we have a very healthy fund balance” – said to be between $2.5 and $3 million – “and the state doesn’t want you to have too much,” she said. “It was either increase the contingent line, and use that to use some of the fund balance; but I thought it would be better to propose to not raise taxes this year, since everything is going up for our residents.”

Mayor Anne Welch explained, “The state does not like us to have a huge fund balance. We’re not supposed to have that big slush.”

The budget anticipates a need to pull $623,471 from the appropriated fund balance to square the books. This has become an annual rite of passage in the Village of Lewiston: Predicting a fund shortage, but ultimately ending up in the black.

“The expenditures have been lower than what I’ve been budgeting, and (Department of Public Works Superintendent) Larry (Wills) and (Recreation Director) Brendan (McDermott), and the revenues have also been higher, so there’s that gap money there,” Longwell said. “Since I’ve been doing the budget the past three years … even though we use the fund balance to balance the budget, it’s never been touched. The fund balance keeps rising.”

“It’s just building,” Welch said.

“We need to use some of it, or at least try to use some of it, so it just doesn’t keep growing, because it’s not fair for certain taxpayers who pay these taxes and then it’s not used in their lifetime,” Longwell said.

“That’s why we don’t want to increase taxes, either; we don’t really need to,” Welch said.

“Some of the assessments went up, so we’re actually going to get more revenue from taxes than we did last year, because assessments went up on certain properties,” Longwell said.

Total revenues are projected to increase by about $300,000.

Under the state’s tax increase threshold, the village could raise the property tax rate to $8.10. Doing that would result in an estimated $52,946 in additional revenue.

But Welch said, “Sooner or later, we’ve got to knock that fund balance down, because we just can’t keep approving all that money. And we don’t want to raise taxes if we have sufficient funds to cover our budget.”

Rates for sewer ($4.79 per 100 cubic feet of usage) and water ($3.95) are projected to remain the same.

Trustees will likely decide on the 2022-23 budget at Monday’s work session, which begins at 6 p.m. There will be a public hearing on the budget proposal prior to any vote.

The fiscal year begins June 1.

Center Street Resurfacing Continues

Construction work on Center Street – including adding new light poles and removing crosswalk bricks – continued this week at the intersections of Ninth and Eighth streets.

Learn more by reading the article “Village of Lewiston: Center Street remodel begins” online at www.wnypapers.com.

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