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Trustees begin to shape FY 2023-24 budget
By Joshua Maloni
Trustees in the Village of Lewiston held a public work session Monday to begin shaping the fiscal year 2023-24 budget. At the meeting, board members discussed raising the tax rate 20 cents – to $7.964858 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation.
For a house appraised at $100,000, a homeowner would be charged roughly $20 more under this new tax rate.
Treasurer Stephanie Longwell presented the board with five different tax rate options, from not raising taxes and needing $680,688 in appropriated fund balance, all the way up to the maximum tax rate ($8.03), and pulling $638,425 from the reserves.
Welch and trustees Vic Eydt, Nick Conde and Tina Coppins said they prefer the 20-cent tax rate increase.
Trustee Dan Gibson was excused from the meeting, but succinctly summarized the board’s opinion afterward: “Although the words ‘tax increase’ is very unpopular, sometimes it is necessary. In my tenure as a village trustee, taxes have only been raised three times, and were minimal. This gives the village working capital for projects such as rebuilding the infrastructure. It also assures the high level of service is maintained that our taxpayers receive and deserve.”
The total estimated budget is $4,767,574, with revenues projected at $4,100,072. So, even with a tax rate increase, the budget calls for $648,710 in appropriated fund balance to square the books.
Among the proposed budget highlights:
•The total estimated budget of $4,767,574 is an increase of $277,689 from the 2022-23 budget.
√ General fund – $3,882,460, an increase of $265,505
√ Water fund – $414,678, an increase of $3,748
√ Sewer fund – $470,436, an increase of $7,436
√ Revenue – $4,100,072, an increase of $233,868
•Water and sewer rates
√ Water rate remains the same, at $4.03 per 100 cubic feet of usage
√ Sewer rate also remains the same, at $4.79 per 100 cubic feet of usage
√ Appropriated fund balance to balance the budget from sewer fund: $18,792
•Top 5 expense items – all are essential services
√ Sewer treatment – $312,610
√ Fire protection – $440,973 ($360,473 comes from the Town of Lewiston)
√ Water supply – $348,940
√ Police protection – $284,004 (budgeted for $304,004)
√ Employee benefits – $647,588 – this includes health insurance, retirement, self-insurance compensation (through Niagara County), Medicare and FICA tax.
√ In addition, there would be a new employee in the Red Brick Municipal Building, who may work as many as 35 hours per week cleaning and maintaining offices/playground equipment, at a rate of between $18 and $20 per hour.
A further look at the proposed budget reveals:
√ Employee benefits total: $647,588, an increase of $100,889
√ Firefighting contracts: $440,973, an increase of $10,279
√ Employee benefits/hospitalization: $354,100, an increase of $52,175
√ Debt service: $158,280, an increase of $10,280
√ Clerk/treasurer personnel: $147,991, an increase of $18,877
√ Firefighting service awards: $90,000, an increase of $10,000
√ Employee benefits/retirement: $95,500, an increase of $15,740
√ Employee benefits/employee flex plan: $93,000, an increase of $24,021
√ Central garage personnel: $74,770, an increase of $12,109
√ Red Brick building and grounds: $42,000 – new expense
√ Short-term rentals personnel, supplies and postage: $38,500 – new expense
√ Board of Trustees: $29,370, an increase of $2,270
√ Mayor: $11,280, an increase of $900
•Department of Public Works:
√ Transportation: $666,059, an increase of $17,678
√ Refuse and garbage: $150,536, an increase of $5,045
√ Parks: $83,065, an increase of $7,830
√ Beautification: $65,895, an increase of $1,000
√ Recycling: $60,556, an increase of $2,671
√ Personnel: $102,220, an increase of $4,865
•Outstanding debt payments for 2023-24: $223,188.28
•Total general revenue: $3,233,750, an increase of $241,476
$414,678 in water fees ($3,748 increase) and $451,644 in sewer fees ($11,356 decrease)
•Total revenue plus water and sewer fees: $4,100,072
√ Property taxes: $1,273,499, an increase of $40,578
√ Real property rentals: $115,000, an increase of $15,000
√ Sales tax: $90,000, an increase of $10,000
√ Mortgage tax: $70,000, an increase of $10,000
√ Cell tower royalties: $30,000, an increase of $10,000
√ Sewer treatment total: $374,910, a savings of $4,496
Last year at this time, the general fund’s total fund balance was $2,049,854. Of that total, the general fund’s unassigned fund balance was $1,256,090, which represented approximately 40.4% of the 2022 general fund expenditures.
The water account had a fund balance of $34,651, while the sewer line had a fund balance of $288,997.
Trustees approved a 2022-23 budget with a flat tax rate of $7.76. That proposal called for $623,681 from the appropriated fund balance.
Actual gains and losses to date are projecting favorably, however, and no fund pull is expected.
The budget is expected to be approved in April, ahead of the next fiscal year’s June 1 start date.
A public hearing on the budget is slated for 6 p.m. Monday, April 17, as part of the Board of Trustees’ monthly meeting at the Red Brick Municipal Building.