Town Board Minutes

WEST SENECA TOWN OFFICES                            TOWN BOARD PROCEEDINGS
1250 Union Road                                                 2014 Special Districts & Preliminary
West Seneca, NY 14224                                                Budget - October 24, 2013
 
 
Supervisor Sheila M. Meegan called the meeting to order at 6:00 P.M. with 30 seconds of silent prayer followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Councilman Eugene Hart.
 
ROLL CALL:          Present    -    Sheila M. Meegan              Supervisor
Eugene P. Hart                 Councilman
John M. Rusinski               Councilman
 
Absent     -   None
 
Supervisor Meegan read the Fire Prevention Code instructing the public where to exit in case of a fire or an emergency.
 
BENEFIT BASIS & PRELIMINARY BUDGET
 
          Motion by Supervisor Meegan, seconded by Councilman Hart, that proofs of publication and posting of legal notice: “OF A PUBLIC HEARING TO CONSIDER THE SPECIAL DISTRICTS BUDGETS FOR FISCAL YEAR 2014 UPON WHICH THE COST OF MAINTENANCE AND DEBT SERVICE THEREOF IS APPORTIONED AND ASSESSED IN PROPORTION TO THE AMOUNT OF BENEFIT CONFERRED AND THE PRELIMINARY BUDGET OF THE TOWN OF WEST SENECA FOR THE FISCAL YEAR BEGINNING JANUARY 1, 2014” in the Town of West Seneca, be received and filed.
 
          Ayes: All                                   Noes: None                               Motion Carried
 
          Motion by Supervisor Meegan, seconded by Councilman Hart, to open the public hearing.
 
Ayes: All                                   Noes: None                               Motion Carried
 
Supervisor Meegan thanked her fellow board members for their time and attention given to the budget process, the department heads for the attention given to the needs of their departments, the hard working employees and a special thank you to her staff, Emily Josefiak and Kathy Hauger along with Finance Director Laura Landers. She commented on the importance of putting in place and adopting a fund balance policy to assist in monitoring spending while planning future projects and needs of the town. Supervisor Meegan gave an overview of improvements within the town including the sewer project, the highway garage roof, purchase of garbage and recycling totes, refurbishing the pool, improvements to baseball diamonds & lighting, improvements at the ice rink, upgrades at the senior center and the police expansion project. Capital projects included reconstruction of Greenbranch, Larkwood, Cardinal and Woodmar Terrace along with paving of a number of other streets. Supervisor Meegan further commented on the growth in commercial development, i.e. Gemcor and Certo Brothers expansion, Southgate Plaza, Sonwil Distribution, et al.
 
WEST SENECA TOWN OFFICES                            TOWN BOARD PROCEEDINGS
1250 Union Road                                                 2014 Special Districts & Preliminary
West Seneca, NY 14224                                                Budget - October 24, 2013
                                                                             Page two . . .
 
Finance Director Laura Landers gave a power point presentation on the budget process. She explained that the benefit basis budget is a tax based on various formulas and includes sewer, water, lighting and industrial park districts. Ms. Landers also noted that the benefit basis budget decreased $243,000 from last year. The ad valorem budget is based on an assessed valuation of property and includes the general and highway funds. Components of the budget include appropriations, estimated revenues, appropriated fund balance and assessed valuations. Ms. Landers reviewed the proposed summary of tax rate changes for the general and highway funds showing an overall combined increase of approximately $0.01 per thousand of assessed valuation and noting the combined general and highway fund tax rate of $17.45 proposed in 2014 is less than the actual tax rate in 2007 and a .05% increase over the 2013 rates. Total appropriations for all funds included in the proposed budget are $44,090,786, whereas the total tax levy for all funds is $28,610,796 which is $990,000 under the tax cap. Budget challenges include reduced revenues due to declining interest rates; appropriations such as for high fuel costs, mandated NYS Retirement System payments which are 88 percent higher than payments in 2010, and required capital improvements (street reconstruction projects - $11,880,000; police expansion and ADA project at Town Hall - $2,000,000; Burchfield, Metz house & town recreational improvements - $300,000; and the second phase of required improvements to sewer districts 5, 13 and 20 - $7,000,000). The general fund will use $450,000 of appropriated fund balance and the highway fund will use $800,000. Ms. Landers stated the taxable assessed valuation increased $6,765,813 or approximately .5% over last year. Changes from the tentative budget include additional revenues in state aid-per capita estimated at $348,552 and additional funding of $124,000 from West Seneca Schools for the school resource officers. It was noted the majority of the budget is spent on public safety (34 percent) and employee benefits (30 percent).  Ms. Landers further stated they normally look to the amount of unassigned fund balance as a measure of fiscal stability and 5 to 25 percent is typical of municipalities to retain as unassigned. The unassigned fund balance is $3,314,000 which is 14 percent of the 2013 budget appropriations of $23,567,476. Finally, the percent of total taxes paid in the Town of West Seneca are broken down as follows: County of Erie -17 percent; Town of West Seneca – 26 percent; West Seneca Central School District – 57 percent.
 
Councilman Hart commented that the budget is probably at the lowest tax rate they are going to get this year. He challenged department heads to make every effort to save even the smallest amount in the upcoming year as there will be more and more debt service for the sewer remediation program and they may be spending significant funds on economic development.
 
Councilman Rusinski stated he did not see much room to move on the budget and thought it was an appropriate utilization of fund balance. He thanked Chief Denz for the recent agreement with the West Seneca School District concerning the school resource officers which resulted in increased revenue for the town. Councilman Rusinski further commented on the energy savings in electric in some departments and not others and stated he will be looking at that.
WEST SENECA TOWN OFFICES                            TOWN BOARD PROCEEDINGS
1250 Union Road                                                 2014 Special Districts & Preliminary
West Seneca, NY 14224                                                Budget - October 24, 2013
                                                                             Page three . . .
 
Linda Toy commented on the salary of Assessor that is blank and the amount instead being listed as “professional services.”
 
Supervisor Meegan responded that the assessor is a shared service with the Town of Elma so it is appropriately being listed under “professional services.”
 
A resident commented that she pays almost $10,000 per year in taxes for her home and any tax increase is unaffordable and causing people to move out of town instead of bringing people in. 
 
Supervisor Meegan stated they are aggressively working to build the commercial tax base and there have been conversations about development of the former Seneca Mall site. She was hopeful things will turn in a positive direction so people do not have to leave.
 
Frank Russo questioned the format of the budget and if contractual expenses referred to employees or outside vendors.
 
Ms. Landers responded that the budget is adopted in accordance with uniform codes dictated by NYS. The .1 accounts refer to wages, .2 is equipment and .4 is contractual (insurance, gasoline, other expenses) which makes up 18 percent of the budget.
 
Amy Carpenter commented on the cost of telephones for the historical society and Burchfield Center.
 
Councilman Hart stated the Burchfield Center is tied into the town’s system and there is a lot of telephone activity with the Supervisor’s office, Finance and Town Attorney’s Office.
 
Highway Supt. Matthew English stated the line item for the historical society includes payment for the 24/7 security system, Internet and telephones.
 
Motion by Supervisor Meegan, seconded by Councilman Rusinski, to close the public hearing.
 
Ayes: All                                   Noes: None                               Motion Carried
 
          Motion by Supervisor Meegan, seconded by Councilman Rusinski, to table the budget and adjourn the meeting until November 12, 2013 at 6 P.M. at the West Seneca Senior Citizens Center.
 
          Ayes: All                                   Noes: None                               Motion Carried
 
__________________________________
JACQUELINE A FELSER

                                                                                               TOWN CLERK

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