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Town of Evans tax rate will remain static

EVANS — The residents of the town of Evans will see neither an increase or a decrease in taxes, this year, as the Evans Town Board has presented a flat budget for the 2013 – 2014 fiscal year.

“This is a flat budget,” Supervisor Keith Dash said. “There is no increase, but unfortunately, there is no decrease, either.”

Dash explained that, even though the town was able to maintain the status quo as far as the tax rate goes, the board is working hard to correct financial problems that still exist within the town.

“There’s still a cash flow problem in the town of Evans and we hope that all of these cost-saving measures that we have implemented, a lot of which came effective late in the year, will come home to roost next year,” he added. “I’m not going to promise anything, but we hope that we can continue to keep the tax rate flat, and that’s what we’re working towards.”

As far as some of those cash saving measures, Dash listed a high deductible on insurance, and the ability to save on salaries due to retirement, among the main contributors to the budget’s bottom line.

“There’s a lot of consolidation,” he said. “There was no replacement of positions that were caused by retirement, so we were able to save on salary there. A high deductible insurance was the one cost savings measure that we’re banking on that’s allowing us to keep this tax rate flat. And we also were able to cut from all of the department’s budgets. There were cuts made in the expenditures in their budgets. Right now, there are no cuts in employees and there is no loss to our workforce. There’s no loss of services to the town.”

The migration over to the Erie County Water Authority was also listed as a cost-saving measure, although this is one that the board members said they hope will reap future rewards for the town.

“The first billing cycle went out this summer, so we are not going to see any savings from that just yet,” Dash said. “That’s one of the things I mentioned that came in late and another thing that was late was the green energy initiative with the solar panels and the LED lighting, which is something we won’t see until the end.

“There are quite a few things that we’ve done, moving forward, that will hopefully catch up by the 2015 fiscal year, just so long as we toe the mark where we are at here,” he said. “As far as the budgets we develop in both 2013 and now 2014 ... we don’t want to go back to square one.”

Dash said, in regard to his thoughts about the overall budget, “I think this budget is lean and mean. I think that we have had a lot of the cooperation from the department heads that realize that we are still strapped and that there is still a cash flow problem in the town of Evans. It isn’t as bad as it was last year, but it is still there,” Dash said.

“We knew that it wasn’t going to go away overnight. We knew that this was a problem that had to be chiseled and chipped away at, but at a steady pace, and they have bought into it. No one submitted unreasonable requests, but even with their conservative requests, we had to take some off the table; at the same time, there’s no loss of services and that is important.”

In other news:
– Dash spoke about an ongoing lawsuit brought against the town board and its three members individually – Dash, Councilman Paul Cooper and Councilman Dennis Feldmann – by former Town Assessor Jeanne Ebersole. The lawsuit cited violations of municipal and labor laws.

“This is simply a case of entitlement,” Dash said. “I have been fighting entitlement since I have been elected. It’s never been, nor will it ever be, a personal issue. It is a way in which to save the town money by going into a shared municipal agreement that was above board and 100 percent legal. We did not fire the assessor; we simply did not reappoint her. We didn’t cut her contract short or kick her out of office. She was simply not reappointed. I never once made it personal.”

– The town’s Community Development Block Grant priority list is as follows: South Creek/John K. Thompson Pool ADA Improvements, Kennedy Avenue Greenway Streetscape Project (Phase II) and Rural/Transit Services Inc.

– Jill Barrett, Stanley Kwilos and Carolyn Mazur, all of Angola, have been appointed to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

The next Evans Town Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 20.

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