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Town of Hamburg tentative budget calls for reduced tax rate

HAMBURG — Steven Walters, town of Hamburg supervisor, said that “it is with great pride” that he has proposed a budget that will once again reduce the tax rate. The supervisor addressed the issue in a letter with the tentative budget that was finalized on Sept. 23, a few hours before the board’s bimonthly meeting.

“This is the fifth time in the last seven years that the budgets I have proposed have [decreased] the tax rate,” Walters added.

The supervisor called the annual budget process an “important undertaking,” adding that “we, as management of the town, must take many factors into effect, including the services which are vital for the health and safety of our residents, services that provide quality of life to our residents [and] the cost of these services and the ability of the taxpayers to pay for these services.

“I am happy to present this budget that provides for the health, safety and quality of life needs of our residents, while also controlling costs,” Walters then added.

During the board meeting, a public hearing regarding the tentative budget was scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 14.

“This [proposal] should be considered the first draft of the budget,” Walters said. “I fully expect to meet with the entire town board and listen to the town citizens and taxpayers to discuss and implement plans to further reduce the costs of town operations.”

Walters spoke about several “highlights” to the budget, including a proposed figure of $42,582,404 for all funds in 2014, which is a decrease of $589,722, over the past seven years.

“This reduction in spending, while maintaining all town services, demonstrates our commitment to our community and residents,” he said.

The tentative budget also called for a reduction in the town’s fund balances. “We have been cautious in not over-relying on [fund balances],” Walters said.

“In fact, the proposed 2014 budget uses over $1 million less in fund balances than was used in 2006,” he added. “This careful use of our reserves serves to protect taxpayers from significant increases in future tax rates.”

In addition, the budget contains no increase in salaries for any elected official. “While we work harder than ever, we understand that many of our taxpayers are struggling financially,” the supervisor said.

The board’s tentative budget proposal is available for review at the town clerk’s office and on the town’s website. Citizens may voice their opinions, during the next meeting’s public hearing.

“We believe this budget provides for continued high quality services to our residents and maintains fiscal stability,” Walters concluded.

“Our residents deserve the highest quality services at the lowest possible cost. We will continue to work with this in mind.”

In other board matters:

– The board entered into an agreement with Special Olympics New York, which will conduct its “Polar Plunge” event on Dec. 7 at Woodlawn Beach State Park.

“It does not cost the town anything,” Walters said. “The Polar Plunge purchases all equipment. Any tents that they need, the food, the refreshments – all purchased by Special Olympics. They bring in their volunteers to run the event. It’s a great event. Last year, they raised $144,000. That’s a great event and a great way to highlight the town of Hamburg.”

“I would urge anybody to check out their website under the Special Olympics site,” said Councilman Amy Ziegler. “There are some very worthy teams to support, including many of our own law enforcement officers.”

– A public hearing for reviewing “the requests of the various volunteer fire companies and fire protection districts for their 2014 contracts with the town” was scheduled for 7 p.m. on Oct. 14.

– The board accepted a bid from E&R General Construction Inc. and entered into a contract with that company, to complete the village of Hamburg waterline reconstruction project. The bid was for $101,722 – the lowest of five bids.

– New Frontier Excavating and Paving Inc.’s bid of $100,830 was accepted, to complete the village of Blasdell infrastructure reconstruction project. There were two additional bids, both of which were higher than the accepted offer.

– Dr. Thomas Hartnet will conduct a free clinic for children on Saturday, Oct. 12, as part of the “Give Kids a Smile” campaign done around the country by dentists. Walters recommended scheduling an appointment with Hartnet’s office. “This is primarily for kids who don’t have dental insurance,” the supervisor said. “They’ll be able to come in, get a free cleaning [and] a free examination. I’d like to thank Dr. Hartnet for participating in this event. He’s hoping to get about 60 kids through the door, that day. He’s completely donating his time for that – just another example of our community coming together.”

– Due to current road work on Rogers Road, in a stated effort to “establish railroad quite zones through the installation of required supplemental safety measures at the Rogers Road and Cloverbank Road grade crossings of the CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads,” the board accepted a 2-mile stretch of Rogers Road as part of the town of Hamburg highway system. The area in question was formerly an Erie County roadway.

– An out-of-town travel request for Jason Collard and Scott Ziobro of the highway department was authorized by the town board. The request is for Winter Maintenance School in Batavia on Oct. 23 and 24. The estimated cost per person, including “lunch, refreshments, student manuals, handouts and certification of completion of course,” is $585.

– Director of Recreation Martin Denecke was approved to attend the National Recreation and Parks Association Congress in Houston, Texas, from Oct. 7 – 10. After reimbursement, the total cost will be $1,221.

– Three employees from the building, grounds and highway department were authorized to attend the tree-climbing methods and work positioning training in Farmington, Mich. from Oct. 10 – 13, at a total cost of $3,010. A previous resolution for the class in August would have required the employees to return at a later date, to complete the certification. After the training, the employees will be certified to perform tree-trimming while avoiding liabilities, which could potentially save most of $100,000 per year on contracting with private services.

The next Hamburg Town Board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 14 at the Hamburg Town Hall, located at 6100 South Park Ave. in Hamburg.

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