Weekly Feature

2016-09-28 / Front Page

Supervisor releases details of tentative 2017 budget

by KEATON T. DEPRIEST Associate Editor

Weinstein Weinstein Supervisor Barry Weinstein as of Tuesday released details of the tentative 2017 budget, outlining that although the tax levy will be increasing by $1.7 million, taxes will be decreasing as a result of a hike in the assessed value of new construction in the town.

“Offsetting the increased levy is a 1.5 percent increase in new construction assessed value in the past year,” Wein- stein said.

He said the spike in expenses led to the preparation of what he characterized as a “difficult budget.”

The supervisor said the town’s trash contract expires on Dec. 31, and the vendor declined to renew the agreement. He said the lowest of three proposals increases the town’s cost by $780,000 “for the same vendor to pick up the trash.”

Other expenses that led to the levy hike included a 3 percent increase for health insurance and liability insurance and workers’ compensation spiking by $1 million.

“The $4 million paid to Acquest from a 2006 Town Board blunder is a significant component,” Weinstein added.

The Town Board in April approved a transfer of funds to allow for the payment of an approximately $4 million judgment to Acquest Wehrle LLC, finalizing a legal suit that dates back 10 years.

The New York State Court of Appeals in March dismissed Amherst’s appeal in the case between the town and Acquest. As part of the appellate decision, the town must pay Acquest more than $4.03 million. The figure includes all interest that accrued on the judgment.

Acquest brought suit against the Town of Amherst when members of the Town Board, including past Supervisor Satish Mohan, agreed to terminate the firm’s planned office park project on Wehrle Drive.

Other members of the 2006 town council named in the lawsuit were Dan Ward, Bill Kindle, Shelly Schratz, Michael Maguire and Deborah Bruch Bucki, who is also a current member of the board.

Weinstein said the tentative 2017 budget also includes the addition of 18 new positions, which total about $312,000 in costs.

Additionally, the supervisor said the budget proposal does not factor in the Town Board’s recent Sept. 6 amendment to add into the tentative budget salary increases for elected officials. The raises would total about $100,000 in expenses for the 2017 spending plan.

The proposed raises for the following posts include:

• Supervisor, from $75,000 to $105,000

• Deputy supervisor, from $3,000 to $4,000

• Council member, from $25,500 to $35,000

• Town clerk, from $65,000 to $82,000

Weinstein said details of the tentative budget will be discussed during upcoming public hearings and the spending plan may still be altered in the process prior to its scheduled adoption on Nov. 1.

The only raise Weinstein proposed that is included in the tentative budget is a 2 percent increase for the town clerk post. 

“A public hearing and council member consideration are scheduled for the Town Board meeting of Oct. 10,” he said. “If the tentative budget is amended by a council member majority, it becomes the preliminary budget. It can be published as such prior to public hearings and council member considerations, which are scheduled for Oct. 19 and Nov. 1.”

Weinstein said he will be finalizing the tentative budget by Friday, Sept. 30.

The next Town Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10, in the Council Chambers at the Amherst Municipal Building, 5583 Main St., Williamsville.

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