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Busti Town Board Discusses Tentative Budget

The proposed 2020 budget for the town of Busti will not be seeing an increase in the tax rate.

The tax rate for Busti has remained flat for the past year and town Supervisor Jesse Robbins said the rate would remain flat for 2020. The tax rate for 2019 was $1.08 for the village of Lakewood and $3.32 for town residents.

The total amount to be raised by taxes next year is proposed to be $1,203,896.48, a 1% increase from last year.

A hearing on the budget will be held Monday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. at the town building.

Rudy Mueller, a board member, said the budget was under the tax cap this year. He said while the tax rate didn’t exactly remain flat, it was pretty close.

Mueller added that he hoped the board would work to bring the increase down to zero.

“I believe we have an excessive townwide fund balance,” Mueller said. “Maybe not in the highway, but in townwide fund A, we have over half a million dollars and $1.2 million in appropriation. In the current budget, we’re asking to put away another $10,000 for contingency funding on a building.”

“We don’t need to use more fund balance to get the tax levy down to zero,” Mueller added. “Just eliminating the contingency and a few other things would work.”

Robbins said the budget process was better than it was in the past. Town Board member Kenneth Lawton added that Busti had the 10th lowest tax rate out of 27 towns in Chautauqua County. Since 2013, he said, the town budget has only seen a 1.6% rate increase.

Mueller also mentioned that even though the tax rate has remained the same, the tax levy has increased by 6% since 2017. He said $120,000 was taken out of the budget, since the town no longer pays for the library — it’s now being funded through the schools.

He noted that sales taxes get underestimated. In 2018, sales tax revenues were underestimated by $62,000 or 8%. He said revenues were estimated to be $760,000, but the actual number was $822,000. When the Town Board voted on the budget in 2018, he said, the taxes were raised by 6%. If the board hadn’t underestimated the sales tax revenue, Mueller said, they wouldn’t have had to raise taxes and the tax levy would be under the cap.

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