Weekly Feature

2017-10-11 / Front Page

Supervisor presents $127.2M budget to board

Spending plan raises levy by 1.36 percent
by KEATON T. DEPRIEST Associate Editor

Supervisor Barry Weinstein on Monday presented his tentative

2018 budget to the Town Board, discussing a spending plan of $127.2 million that carries a $1.73 million overall increase from the current year.

The benchmark during Weinstein’s tenure as supervisor was the tax levy he inherited during his rookie year in 2010, when the tax levy was about $73.4 million.

After a dip in the levy — which spent five years in the $71 million range — 2018 will be the first year the figure has surpassed 2010’s value and is a 1.3 percent increase during the eight-year period.

Weinstein said the tax levy, or amount to be raised by taxpayers, is spiking to about $74.38 million, which is about a $960,000 increase from the current budget year.

Weinstein said the 2018 spending proposal and its rise in the levy is consistent with what he said during this year’s State of the Town speech, when he publicly stated that next year’s budget would most likely include some increases.

“I’m happy that it’s been completed and ready for the board,” Weinstein said. “By raising the levy, I think the successor will have a great chance of succeeding.”

He added that the 2017 to 2018 raise in the levy is 1.36 percent, which is within the state’s mandated 2 percent tax cap.

Weinstein said the tax cap is a calculation based upon the inflation component, town’s growth component and the carryover from the town not previously raising taxes.

Other highlights noted by the supervisor during Monday’s budget presentation included the salaries for elected officials remaining the same for 2018.

Last year, in developing the 2017 budget, the Town Board approved increasing salaries for the councilmembers and supervisor positions by $9,500 and $30,000, respectively. The current year’s budget also increased the town clerk salary by $17,000.

A 3-2 Town Board vote decided that the salaries would be included in the 2017 budget. Weinstein and Council Member Deborah Bruch Bucki voted against the measure.

The budget also includes 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, Weinstein said the tax base is broadened by 0.43 percent, and the tax increase is approximately

1 percent.

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. Weinstein said the town offered a separation incentive to members of four bargaining units, and 27 employees have accepted.

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 Town Board will hold its next budget public hearing and board meeting at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, in the Council Chambers at the Amherst Municipal Building, 5583 Main St., Williamsville.

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