Village Board Discusses Tentative Tax Rate Decrease

LAKEWOOD — A tentative budget was announced for the village of Lakewood and is proposed to include a tax rate decrease of 8 cents per thousand for the budget year beginning June 1 and ending May 31, 2020.

Deputy Mayor and budget officer Ted McCague filed the tentative budget — which will be discussed in a public hearing at 6:50 p.m. during the next regular meeting April 8 — with Village Clerk Joe Johnson. Treasurer Andrea Windoft added that the village is fiscally stable according to state standards.

McCague’s proposal recommends a tax rate of $7.91 per thousand compared to the present tax rate of $7.99.

The proposed tax levy will increase from $1,928,617 to $1,933,756, Trustee Randy Holcomb said.

Year-over-year, the village’s total assessment increased from $241,295,551 to $244,440,541. Mostly due to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s cut to Aid and Incentives for Municipalities state funding, total village revenue is expected to decrease 2.56 percent from $1,694,475 to $1,651,166.

Under the proposed budget, expenses will be decreased by 2.14 percent from $3,805,509 to $3,723,921. The $81,587 difference was achieved through various efficiencies and was offset by a $83,764 increase in hospital and medical insurance costs.

“I’m pleased to offer village residents this disciplined, financially responsible budget for the coming fiscal year while we continue our efforts to find operational efficiencies wherever possible and consider proposals to increase village revenue,” McCague said.

A budget will need to be adopted by May 1 and will be pending the public hearing April 8 and subsequent review from the four-member board of trustees.

In other news, trustees unanimously decided to award a bid for a marked sport utility vehicle for use by the Lakewood-Busti Police Department’s K-9 unit to Fredonia Chrysler-Dodge under Police Chief John Bentley’s recommendation. The net price of $18,513 for the SUV was the cheapest option for bid, and the cost will be paid for through asset forfeiture. Bentley said he will order the vehicle today and expects it to arrive in a couple months.

The trustees authorized payment of $543.50 for copying services incurred for the ongoing litigation regarding the proposed cell tower. Lakewood residents expressed their desire to know more about the legal action, and McCague and Trustee Ellen Barnes said they would check with Village Attorney John LaMancuso in regard to giving out basic information to the public.

“The litigation is in process,” McCague said. “We’re just not at liberty to say anything.”

Department of Public Works Supervisor Tom Pilling reported that the village’s in-kind services for the Chautauqua Avenue Green Street Retrofit Project amounting to $66,625 will equal 1,824 hours of work on the project.

Another April 8 public hearing will be held at 6:40 p.m. for the discussion of a new noise ordinance. Trustees also urged Lakewood residents to attend Wednesday night’s open discussion on lake weeds and aquatic herbicide applications at 6 p.m. at the Lakewood American Legion.

Trustees Barnes, McCague and Holcomb attended a special meeting last week in which they all voted to approve the amended herbicide findings statement related to the Chautauqua Lake Partnership’s application at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to apply herbicides in 222 acres of Lakewood waters in Chautauqua Lake. A final vote on whether to have herbicides applied will come later in the spring.

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