Cheektowaga Town Council adopts 2018 budget; increases Benczkowski’s proposed property tax rate

The town council voted to adopt a modified version of Supervisor Diane Benczkowski's 2018 budget by a vote of 4-3 on November 14th. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
The town council voted to adopt a modified version of Supervisor Diane Benczkowski's 2018 budget by a vote of 4-3 on November 14th. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

CHEEKTOWAGA – The town council voted to adopt a modified version of Supervisor Diane Benczkowski’s 2018 budget by a vote of 4-3.

The adopted changes add an estimated $172K to Supervisor Diane Benczkowski’s 2018 budget to purchase a new insulated/heated truck for the sewer department and adjust funding to the recreation department.

Ms. Benczkowski, Councilmember Gerald Kaminski, and Councilmember Alice Magierski vote no.

“I feel that I submitted a fiscally responsible budget.  I was still able to keep the $1.8 million for the youth and rec programs and whatever we would have added in would have put the tax levy over 3% and I wanted to stay under that 3%.  It’s a hardship – every dollar matters to our residents and our families,” said Supervisor Diane Benczkowski.

“The biggest problem I had with it was spending our reserves funds.  Sooner or later they’re going to be gone.  Last year we dropped the tax rate, this year its up.  How do you make up a $4.5 million hole in the budget in a year or two? Pretty difficult,” said Councilmember Gerald Kaminski.

“I felt that some departments gave up more than other departments and I feel we should be focused on reducing expenses, not programs.  Especially programs that affect our youth and families and our seniors,” said Councilmember Alice Magierski.

The modification to the budget increases taxes just under a quarter of a percent to 2.09% – up from the supervisor’s original figure of 1.86%. The tax increase will allow the town to purchase a $240K sewer truck without presenting a bond measure to the residents.  Councilmember James Rogowski says the town needs a truck with a heated/insulated tank to clear sewer issues during the winter months.

“The budget went up 9 cents per day, less than a dime.  I put in money to reduce the budget by $140K.  Some of the board members did not agree with all those cuts.  They did agree to cut $80K, but we’re in desperate need of a sewer truck in the winter and if we have a storm where a pipe breaks, we don’t have a truck, if we didn’t vote for that budget,” said Councilmember James Rogowski.

By purchasing the truck Mr. Rogowski says the town wouldn’t need to contract out the work which will save money in the long run.  An older sewer truck will be traded in to help reduce the purchase price.

Only one resident spoke during the meeting’s comment period before the vote was taken.  Rev. Richard Maisano was not happy with the additions to the Supervisor’s proposed budget.

“I’m going to ask the board to really please seriously think before you vote yes or no.  I don’t want to see in this town what happened in West Seneca last night,” said Rev. Maisano. “I have seniors on my block who are just making it, just making it.  So what do we do with them?  Do we just keep on adding, adding, adding, adding, alright?  Sooner or later we’re going to hit a brick wall.  I tell you, I’m very discouraged to see those additions.”

In addition to the sewer truck, $12K was added to the youth and recreation department.

The tax bill on a $100,000 assessed home will increase by $33.49 to be $1,638.09.