Niagara Gazette

September 30, 2013

Lewiston officials talk 2014 town budget

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — With autumn taking over the calendar, it’s time once again for the start of leaves changing colors, pumpkin-flavored drinks and town governments talking finances.

Lewiston officials met to discuss the town’s preliminary 2014 budget proposal Thursday, with hopes of beginning a process culminating in adopting a new spending plan in November.

One of the largest increases submitted by heads this year comes from the town’s water department. Supervisor Steve Reiter said a request was made to purchase 500 new water meters while also requesting the hiring of an additional worker.

Combined between the new hire and the meter purchase, the department is looking at an increased cost of $75,000, though it isn’t clear if or when the board would schedule the purchase. Reiter said the costs could even be shared between departments.

“The costs could be shared with the sewer department,” he said. “Not only are these meters the cash registers for the water department, they’re also the cash registers for the sewer department.”

There’s also concerns over whether or not the town even needs to purchase 500 of these devices. Reiter said slowly the department has been upgrading its meters as residents have sold homes and businesses have come and gone from commercial properties.

The number required for this year may be much less because of the state of Lewiston’s properties.

“I doubt we’re going to need 500 meters next year,” Reiter said. “I doubt there’s 500 house sales in Lewiston in a year.”

Purchasing the meters, which offer upgraded capabilities and fewer accounting errors, in bulk might also be detrimental because of technological changes made in the meters, Reiter added.

In all, the town’s first draft budget, which must be submitted to the town’s clerk this weekend, is considered responsible, according to Reiter.

“All of our department heads submitted good budgets this year,” Reiter said. “The only increases came from the water department and he wants to buy meters and hire an extra person. I don’t think the board’s looking to hire someone. But every year, it’s fine tuned to get under the (state’s property tax cap). We’ll be in good shape.”

In other town news, Reiter was authorized to sign a contract with the Town of Porter to share services of the town’s dog control officer Monday.

Lewiston will provide the service to Porter for $100 per dog found loose during normal work hours and $150 for any dog response made after hours or on weekends. Under the contract, Porter would also be responsible for payment for any use of the town’s official animal shelter by animals brought in from its town.

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.