WESTFIELD - As the New York State tax cap looms over its second budget cycle, local municipalities, including the Town of Westfield, are passing laws to override the tax levy limit due to a change to whose budget shows workman's compensation insurance costs.
"We're at the bottom of the line and we're absorbing these costs," Bills said.
During a public hearing before the Town Board meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 5, Supervisor Martha Bills explained that an audit of Chautauqua County by the New York State Comptroller's office said the county should have included money for the workman's compensation co-op in its budget as opposed to doing it as a charge-back on taxes. As a result, the county has passed the issue down to the towns and villages that participate, making it appear those towns and villages will be raising more taxes than in the past, thus causing many to appear to raise taxes above the levy limit.
Photo by Jenna Loughlin
Members of the Westfield Town Board voted unanimously at their meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 5 to pass a local law overriding the New York State tax levy limit. Pictured from left to right are Jim Herbert, David Spann, Clerk Tim Smith, Supervisor Martha Bills, David Brown and Deputy Supervisor Ray Schuster.
"There's various things being included other than your operating budget," Bills said. "So if we are to go ahead with projects ... that puts us in a position that we're going to have to override. If it doesn't, we don't need to, we won't, but we need to be prepared."
While this is not the case for Westfield - the town will have to add around $20,000 to its revenues and expenses - if the town did decide to really raise taxes at all, or if the town has to bond for the Barcelona water district during 2013, the combined issues could put Westfield over the levy limit.
"It's a decision - do you want to move ahead with projects or do you want to put them on hold," Bills said.
To avoid this potential problem, the Town Board unanimously approved Resolution no. 45 of 2012, Local Law no. 2 of 2012, Authorization to Override Tax Levy Limit in FY 2013. There were no comments against the local law from the public during the hearing.
Bills noted the town has decreased the tax rate or held the line over the last several years. The town passed a similar law last year due to discrepancies in what the tax cap legislation entailed.
In new business, Town Clerk Tim Smith announced the Fall Clean-Up will be held Saturday, Sept. 29 at the transfer station from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The eWaste Turn-In will be held Saturday, Oct. 6 at the town barn from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In project updates, Bills reported the archeological studies needed for the United States Department of Agriculture grant for new water lines in Barcelona should start in the next few weeks.
Also, the town has received a grant to update the lights on the Daniel Reid Pier, but only one bid for the work. However, the company has done work for the Village of Westfield, which said it is reputable. The new LED lights will focus down to prevent light pollution and have more of a natural blue light. The Village of Westfield electric department has offered to assist.
In other business, Highway Supervisor David Babcock received permission from the board to put an ad in the paper to bid for a dump truck as well as permission to trade in the town's 2-year-old John Deer loader and $6,500 for a new loader.
Additionally, Code Enforcement Officer Jim Pacanowski reminded board members the Westfield Volunteer Fire Department has a website, www.fdwny.com.
Finally, board member Jim Herbert once again reported water levels in Barcelona Harbor are at a critical state right now. People are getting stuck due to the low levels, and Herbert said the area needs rain or snow, or there is going to be a big problem next year.
The board also passed Resolution no. 44 of 2012, Authorization to Sign Contract with Behan Planning, an amendment to an existing contract to add additional services not to exceed $35,000.
There will be three public hearings starting at 7:15 p.m., before the town's Wednesday, Oct. 3 meeting. They are for a proposed generator on a cell phone tower on Douglas Road, the Sherman Fire District and the Westfield Fire District.