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Taxes, rats, totes, all matters of discussion at Town of Cheektowaga board meeting

BY: Kimberly Snickles, Cheektowaga Source | November 07, 2012

It was a night of many discussions, as Town of Cheektowaga board members addressed resident’s concerns regarding taxes, totes, and rats.

Supervisor Mary Holtz made it a point to discuss what exactly a fund balance is used for in the budget, and why it is so important to have.

“The reason why we have additional fund balances is because we have a number of issues sitting with us,” said Holtz. “We have three additional contracts, we have the costs of health insurance, we’re not sure where we are gonna go with self insurance this year, and we have a number of capital projects that we already focused fund balances on.”

Capital projects include debt service items like the damaged Zurbrick Road, which needs immediate repair, and drainage.

“We are working on a project on William Street where people don’t have drainage. Our board is trying to help these people, and it costs millions of dollars to do that,” said Councilmember Jim Rogowski.

Members of the board stated that these funds are also set aside for emergencies like natural disasters, and unexpected tax hikes like the state mandated retirement contribution rate, which led to a 1.2 million dollar increase in the budget.

“The money is not sitting there so we can reduce taxes when we want to, we are just being financially responsible to make sure we have money for emergency situations,” said Councilmember Stanley Kaznowski.

Although Councilwoman Angela Wozniak begged to differ with her fellow council members and said that there is plenty of money in the fund balances to use, without having to raise resident’s taxes. The proposed tax would be $6.91 more on a $100,000 home.

“As the budget is currently prepared, the average homeowner will see an increase of .42 percent in their rate. Although this rate is relatively low, in most cases, when taxes go up, they’re for life,” said Wozniak.

Wozniak proposed to the board that they use money from the fund balances to even out the budget, so that residents do not have to see any increase in their taxes. NYS recommends that fund balances are maintained between 15 to 20 percent, and Wozniak believes there is no need to increase that rate.

“This is not responsible government. A bad winter is not going to cost 20 million dollars, so the idea that we have to be in excess of what NYS recommends is ridiculous,” said Wozniak.

Supervisor Holtz said that next year they are hoping to reduce taxes, but first they must know how all of the union contracts are going to proceed, and keep money in the fund balances for capital projects, and unexpected expenses.

Also discussed at the meeting, rats.

A resident proposed the idea of amending a town code, which would forbid residents to feed wildlife animals, such as birds and squirrels. As of now the town has an extreme rat problem and residents hope taking away their source of food will deter them. The town stated that they are taking this issue very seriously, and believe that the new totes will reduce the unwanted guests.

The official day for tote distribution will begin Nov. 7, and will take about six to seven weeks to distribute them to each home. Garbage will not be picked up in the totes until the week of Dec. 17. One tote will be given to each single resident, and two totes will be given to multiple dwellings. If residents or landlords wish to purchase an additional tote they may, and the cost will be $45 for 95-gallon totes, and $40 for 65-gallon totes. Most routes will remain the same, but some may change. Residents are asked to refer to the sheet of information that will be attached to every tote.

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