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Hamburg public invited to view the village’s tentative budget

HAMBURG — The public will be invited to weigh in on the village of Hamburg’s tentative budget for the 2014 – 2015 fiscal year, during a budget hearing scheduled for March 3.

Village Administrator and Budget Director Donald Witkowski told the Hamburg Village Board, during its Feb. 18 work session, that the tentative budget is in compliance with the New York state-imposed property tax cap law, as it includes a property tax rate increase of 1.86 percent, less than the state’s 2 percent limit.

That increase translates to a $21.60 increase in property taxes.

Witkowski did ask the board to include a public hearing on March 3, to override the tax levy limit. “This is simply a precautionary measure,” he said, and Trustee Mark Colmerauer said, “We passed this last year, too, but we did not go above the tax cap.”

According to the tentative budget, the village’s total taxable assessed valuation of property has increased by $895,829, since last year. The total appropriation of this year’s tentative budget is $9,513,749, an increase of 2.2 percent from last year’s. “The major reason for the increase is a $161,400 combined increase in projects to repair infrastructure and facilities and replace equipment,” Witkowski explained.

Non-property tax revenue for this year’s budget is $2,662,394, an increase of $115,052 from last year. This is due to increased projections in recreation fees, rental of the village water tanks as cell tower sites, mortgage tax and consolidated highway aid, Witkowski said.

The amount that is proposed to be raised by taxes for the upcoming fiscal year is $6,473,855, an increase of $137,180 from last year.

Salary expenses related to personnel for this year’s budget increased by $126,381.

This includes a total of $21,636 for board of trustee members, $69,663 for village justice employees and $247,521 for clerk-treasurer employees.

Police Chief Dennis Gleason’s salary is $121,411, and Captain Michael Melisz’s is $105,510. The total police salary amount is $1,300,760. Police office staff members will make an additional $59,411. Crossing guards come in at $47,044, and the total amount for the streets department salary is $864,573.

Witkowski noted that the salary expense increase included contractual pay raises for unionized employees and salary increases for non-unionized employees, excluding the village justice.

Employee benefits related to personnel have decreased since last year, by $36,089.

Non-personnel related expenses in this year’s budget have increased by $120,840. “The non-personnel ongoing operating expenses, when adjusted for the $161,400 in additional capital projects to repair and replace infrastructure, facilities and equipment contained in the operating budget, actually decreased by $40,560,” Witkowski said.

The amount allocated for capital projects is $995,139, a total of 10.5 percent of the general fund expenses. This includes road work; the replacement of a water line on Long Avenue; the replacement of trucks and equipment for the department of public works and recreation; the purchase of one marked and one unmarked car for the police department; the replacement of a portion of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the village hall; the replacement of the village phone system; the resurfacing and striping of parking lots at Glen Meadows Park, the community center and the youth center; sealing of the roof at the Glen Meadows maintenance building; the repairing of the salt storage facility at the DPW and the installation and replacement of sidewalks.

As part of Erie County’s takeover of the village’s sewer system maintenance and operation, “the village agreed to bond for certain repairs and upgrades to the sewer system,” Witkowski said, adding that any costs incurred will be paid by the county.

The total revenue for this year’s sewer budget is $279,561, as compared to $137,617, last year. “This revenue is raised through sewer rates that are set and collected by the Erie County Sewer District,” Witkowski explained.

The village board must adopt a budget by May 1, or the tentative budget on file in the village clerk’s office will become the official budget, for this fiscal year.

This year’s tentative budget is available for public viewing at the clerk’s office in the village hall. The public hearing about this budget will be held during the regular meeting on March 3.

In other board news:
– Imagine:Hamburg’s request to utilize Memorial Park for a movie from 7 – 11 p.m. on July 24 was approved, subject to the group’s providing adequate proof of insurance.

– The board agreed to transfer $7,000 into the youth center reserve, to cover the first payment of a three-year lease on a replacement recreation van.

– The board also voted to move $15,000 into the facilities maintenance reserve, to repair the salt storage building.

– The use of Memorial Park for the 10th annual Garden Walk from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, July 12 and 13 was approved.

– Hamburg Mayor Thomas Moses thanked the community for being patient with the clearing of snow, this winter. “Our guys have done a good job keeping up with cleaning the streets,” he said. “We have ample salt left for the rest of the winter. People have been very patient.”

– The demolition of a condemned building on Pleasant Avenue began on Feb. 19, after a demolition order was extended to the owner.

– Hamburgh Holidays and Rock the Roundabout have requested that the annual New Year’s Eve celebration be endorsed by Hamburgh Holidays. “I don’t see an issue with it,” Colmerauer said, “as long as they’re comfortable absorbing it.”

– Witkowski said that, due to a recent security issue, changes will be made to the village hall’s back entryway. This might include an access code lock that can also be made to operate with a key card. This will allow all village hall visitors to enter through the front, where cameras monitor the doorway.

– Recreation and Parks Supervisor Josh Haeick reminded the board about an upcoming public meeting to obtain the community’s feedback about the future of the village’s parks and the department’s strategic plan. This will be held at 7 p.m. on March 13 in the Hamburg Youth Center, located at 200 Prospect Ave.

– There was no public input, during a hearing about the demolition of property at 25 W. Crescent Ave. The owner has been served with an order of demolition.

The next Hamburg Village Board work session will be held at 5:30 p.m. on March 3, followed by a regular board meeting at 7.

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