Cheektowaga residents could face 1.1% tax increase

CHEEKTOWAGA – Town of Cheektowaga taxpayers could see a tax levy increase of 1.1% if Supervisor Diane Benczkowski’s tentative 2019 budget is approved by the town council.

Ms. Benczkowski proposed budget was submitted last week.  It totals $92,639,171, an increase of $1,288,838 in appropriations from last year.  The tax levy increase of 1.1% is below the New York State mandated tax cap of 2.0%.  The tax bill for an average home in the town assessed at $100,000 will be $1,656.70, an increase of $24.66.

Her office says in a press release that Ms. Benczkowski’s Citizens Budget Advisory Committee made several recommendations for 2019, including a 15% reduction across the board in overtime, part-time payroll, and purchases.  

Some department heads were able to cut 15% in all these areas, while others were creative and found savings in other ways, but they were not immediately listed.

The committee also recommended putting a hold or reduction on equipment and supply purchases; leasing vehicles instead of buying vehicles outright; reducing grass cutting and fertilization in parks and at town buildings during the summer; and eliminating snow plowing of town park parking lots, with the exception of Town Park and Stiglmeier Park. 

“Difficult choices always have to be made during the budget process and I thank our department heads for listening to the recommendations of the Budget Advisory Committee,” said Ms. Benczkowski wrote in her press release.  “We are constantly striving to find the perfect balance between providing the quality services our residents need, want and deserve with the realities of ever-increasing costs.  In the future, I will continue to seek new partnerships and collaborations to bolster the services we currently offer while reducing the burden on our taxpayers.”  

The supervisor says that residential properties were not re-assessed in 2018, and the tentative 2019 level of taxes is lower than tax bills levied in 2011.  She also says that vacant residential properties decreased from 545 to 304 since last year boosting the town’s active tax roll and steady commercial development in recent years with new builds or redevelopment has added to the tax base.   

A bulk of the budget increase come from wage increases for all town unions per their bargaining unit contracts and state mandated minimum wage increases.  These increases alone equate to over $956,000 of additional appropriations.  No wage increases are included for elected officials. 

Also included are increases in fuel prices, road salt, utilities, and solid waste and recycling contracts.  Ms. Benczkowski also highlights the town’s aging infrastructure for increasing costs and the continuing need to reinvest in this infrastructure by aggressively repaving many streets each year and improving storm drainage and the sanitary sewer system.

Capital to complete those projects come from bond measures and the town is obligated to pay back an additional $150,000 for debt service in the 2019 budget. 

The supervisor also felt it was important to add additional funding for safety and security cameras throughout the town and included an increase to the credit to taxpayers in the Village of Depew to $500,000 for the cost of the Town Police Department.

Copies of the Supervisor’s tentative 2019 budget have been provided to members of the Town Board with initial discussions to be held in the coming weeks.  The Town Board will schedule a public hearing for Tuesday, October 23rd at 7:00 pm to present the tentative 2019 budget in more detail and receive input from residents.  The Supervisor’s tentative 2019 budget is available for review in the Town Clerk’s office or online by clicking here.

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