Weekly Feature



2018-11-08 / Local News

Lightly attended budget forum offers details on tax increase

by CHRIS GRAHAM
Editor

Facing a 7.45 percent tax rate hike for the tentative 2019 budget, members of the Town Board held a presentation on Monday that explained where tax dollars are going and the reasons for the increase.

As Supervisor Patrick Keem detailed the two main increases, a new contract for the Orchard Park Police Benevolent Association and new debt related to town infrastructure projects, there was one constant from past budget forums: low attendance.

Councilman Michael Sherry said residents’ failure to attend the forums doesn’t indicate disinterest, but rather that the town keeps them informed in other ways — with presentations on the website and columns in various media outlets.

The Monday night forum, as did one on Saturday morning, featured a sparse crowd as officials went through the noteworthy items of the budget.

The PBA contract, put in place in December after the organization had been without an agreement since 2015, gives raises to officers of 3.75 percent in 2016, 3.50 percent in 2017, 3.50 percent in 2018, 3.75 percent in 2019 and 3.75 percent in 2020.

In previous budget discussions, Keem said the cost to the town for police personnel services is $583,361 more than last year’s budget. Police retirement costs are also going up $200,000.

The other significant number involves infrastructure projects, including work to town playgrounds, roads, buildings, sewer and water improvements, and the construction of the Brush Mountain Park community activity center. Those figures amount to $906,098, including $557,787 for the center.

The budget also sees a 2 percent wage increase for a number of department managers, nonunion personnel and elected officials.

“Looking at those two major areas, police and infrastructural debt, each of them represents about 4.25 percent increase on our budget,” Sherry said. “Now that would add up to 8.50 percent. We’re not going up that much because there’s some additional revenues that are deducted from that.”

The additional revenues include a one-time savings of

$300,000 for health insurance;

$200,000 more in interest earnings; and $150,000 more in safety inspection fees.

Appropriations for the budget are up around $1.5 million from 2018. This means the town will likely see a total spending plan of $27.5 million. Last year’s adopted budget was $26 million.

The tax levy increase is slightly more than $1 million. The town outside village tax rate is $7.38 per $1,000 assessed value. Last year’s was $6.83. Town residents would see a tax bill increase of $71.55 a year, or $5.96 per month for a home valued at $250,000. A home in the village would see a tax bill increase of $96.24 a year, or about $8 a month using the same calculation.

The 2019 budget was expected to be adopted at the Nov. 7 Town Board meeting.

email: cgraham@beenews.com

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