Weekly Feature

2017-10-04 / Front Page

Supervisor projects tax levy, health insurance increases

Tentative budget
by KEATON T. DEPRIEST Associate Editor

Supervisor Barry Weinstein submitted to state officials on Friday the last tentative town budget of his two-term tenure.

The supervisor is proposing a 1.36 percent increase in the tax levy — a spike that has occurred only twice in his preparation of eight budgets.

“The increased tax levy is $1 million, to $74,382,771, well within the tax cap,” Weinstein said.

The tax levy is the amount to be carried through property taxes.

Weinstein is in the final three months of his second consecutive term. Town law limits elected officials from serving more than two consecutive terms.

The supervisor’s tentative 2018 budget of $127.2 million carries a $1.73 million overall increase.

Other details of his tentative budget — to be reviewed by the Town Board for possible amendments and subsequent approval — include a $39 million increase in assessed value from new construction for a one-year period, from July 1, 2016, to June 30 of this year.

As a result of the increase, “the tax base is broadened by 0.43 percent, and the tax increase is approximately 1 percent,” Weinstein said.

The supervisor said expenses have been slowly increasing, with townwide personnel costs spiking by about 3 percent, which includes benefits.

The increased expenses have been softened by employees opting for early retirement packages through the town.

“We have offered a separation incentive to members of four bargaining units, and 27 employees have accepted,” Weinstein said. “We thank them for their service and wish them well in their retirement from Amherst.”

He added that new entry-level employees are budgeted for 24 of the positions, allowing the savings to offset the spending increases.

Weinstein said offering separation incentives to employees has greatly assisted him in preventing layoffs during each of his budget developments. The supervisor said another difficult factor in preparing the 2018 budget was a projected spike of 5 percent in the cost of health insurance. He added that fund balance usage has decreased by $1.2 million to $5.37 million. He said the fund balance currently has $4.04 million plus any 2017 surplus that will assist in the development of the next supervisor’s 2019 budget.

“The money left now would be used in budget development next year,” Weinstein said. “I could balance the budget and lower the tax levy using more fund balance, but it wouldn’t be fair to my successor. I didn’t want to do that to either Marjory [Jaeger] or Brian [Kulpa]. They are not starting out behind the eight ball.”

Weinstein added that he is thankful for the dedication of the employees and department heads in creating the budgets since 2010.

“It’s been a good ride these last eight years,” he said. “I had a lot of cooperation from the Town Board, especially in the first few years.”

The budget will be discussed by the Town Board during its next meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, at the Amherst Municipal Building, 5583 Main St., Williamsville.

A budget meeting will also be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, at the Municipal Building.

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