Village of Lancaster adopts budget: Tax rate under two percent
“It is under two-percent, which I think is pretty good considering last year the budget decreased by five-percent and the year before that there was a zero-percent increase,” remarked Village of Lancaster Mayor William G. Cansdale Jr. “So, counting this budget in the last five years we averaged about a 1.8 percent increase in taxes.”
The board has been able to keep the tax rate low by utilizing village resources they already have, finding ways to be innovative when it comes to health insurance, and reducing costs when able to.
The decrease in the tax rate was possible by the board taking out a few thousand dollars from the village’s travel expenses, said Cansdale.
“I am very pleased with the budget process. It was probably one of the better budgets we have worked with,” commented Cansdale. “As always the department heads are very helpful and conscientious when it comes to how [residents] tax dollars are spent. The fact that we are only going up 1.96 percent this time is a pretty significant accomplishment.”
The total appropriations for the budget sits at $7,165,389 with general fund appropriations totaling $6,096,000 with an increase in spending of about $16,500 compared to last year. The village expects to generate $4,444,465 through real property tax, an increase of 2.25 percent from last year.
Cansdale said the increase in spending, as stated above, is minimal. The board was able to minimize the increase in spending because some debt came off, by reducing some expenses, and increasing revenues.
“It is always the challenge each year because the cost of health insurance, pensions, and the cost of doing business goes up,” said Cansdale.
Furthermore, the village will collect a total of $2,634,924 in estimated revenues. The break down for the village’s revenues is as follow: general fund, $1,640,535; water fund, $239,254; and sewer fund, $755,135.
The 2012-2013 budget includes a $9.74 tax rate per $1,000 of taxable assessed valuation. So, if a homeowner’s house is assessed at:
• $50,000 residents will have to pay $487 in village taxes
• $100,000 residents will have to pay $974 in village taxes
• $150,000 residents will have to pay $1,461 in village taxes
• $200,000 residents will have to pay $1,948 in village taxes
In addition, annual compensation for Village Justice Paul Bumbalo is $19,000; mayor is 12,900; budget director is $5,900; and each trustee will receive a salary of $9,900.
Cansdale mentioned that the challenge the village will face next year is the cost of fuel due to the increasing costs of gas and diesel.
“The price of gas is certainly hurting a lot of people and it also hurts the village as a business,” said Cansdale. “We are going to see if there is something we can do to keep those costs down.”
According to Cansdale, the village will continue to offer the sidewalk replacement program, a program that restores defected sidewalks at no cost to a homeowner. The only thing is it won’t be as extensive as past years.
“It has been a very successful program since we initiated it,” remarked Cansdale. “We have spent well over a million dollars replacing sidewalks in the last six or seven years. Roads are in great shape and sewers are coming around. Overall, the condition of the village is in great shape.”
Also, with the West Main Street project still on the drawing board, a project that plans to reopen West Main Street to Aurora Street, the village has been taking in account the amount of bond debt they will incur.
“We have been very careful about the debt we incur over the past five years in anticipation of having to spend some money when the Boces building comes down and we push West Main Street back through,” commented Cansdale. “We should be able to absorb those annual bond payments without raising taxes.”
Any new debt is taken on after the board evaluates it and they make sure the old debt is being relieved and paid off.
“I have a formula for keeping our debt at a specific level,” said Cansdale. “We don’t go over that, which made the budget process a lot easier. We keep paying as we go on things. So, we have been very effective managing our debt to keep taxes down.”
Lastly, Cansdale mentioned that having Village of Lancaster Clerk/Treasurer Michael Stegmeier in place makes his job much easier.
“He provides me with the financial data that I need to make the right decisions,” added Cansdale. “He offers sound advice, great suggestions, and things we could look at cutting or revising. He brings cost cutting measures to the board. He is a big asset to the village.”
In other village news:
• Prior to the regularly scheduled village board meeting, the organizational meeting was held. Some highlights including: appointing Trustee Paul Maute to the position of deputy mayor; Daniel Rinow was appointed to acting justice for a one-year term; and Yvonne Tripi was appointed to deputy village attorney. There are also three vacant seats on the Historic Preservation Commission, which any interested party can apply for.
• With nicer weather on its way the village is going to have more foot traffic, therefore, Village of Lancaster Trustee Edward Marki has asked that drivers reduce the speed of their vehicle and be aware of the safety walks on Central Avenue, which are not being followed.
• A public hearing will be held at 7:15 p.m. Monday, April 23, to designate the west side of East Garfield Street to have parking available and the east side of East Garfield Street to have no parking available.
• The board approved the request to allow the Depew-Lancaster Boys and Girls Club to hold its 35th annual 10K Race Wednesday, July 4 in the village.
The next Village of Lancaster Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, April 23, in the Municipal Building Council Chambers, 5423 Broadway, Lancaster.