Niagara Gazette

Local News

November 19, 2012

Budget reduces taxes

Niagara Gazette — TOWN OF NIAGARA — An assistant building inspector whose job will be eliminated under a 2013 budget adopted by board members last week has been placed on paid administrative leave through the end of the year. 

Jeffrey Stahlman, whose job was cut as part of a board-approved downsizing of the building inspections department, has been notified that his services were no longer needed, but he would still be paid his regular salary and benefits through Dec. 31, 2012. 

The message was delivered to Stahlman in a memorandum from Town Board member and building inspections department liaison Dan Sklarski.

"You will be paid your regular salary and benefits through Dec. 31, 2012, but you will not be reporting for or performing work in the town hall," reads a copy of the notice obtained by the Niagara Gazette. 

In a 3-2 vote last week, town board members approved a $7.13 million total budget for 2013. The spending plan calls for the homestead rate to decrease by 27 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, from the current rate of $4.98 to $4.71. For non-homestead property owners, the 2013 rate will decrease by 29 cents, down from $8.76 per $1,000 this year to $8.47 in 2013. 

Sklarski, Supervisor Steve Richards and board member Charles Teixeira voted in favor of the budget, while Deputy Supervisor Marc Carpenter and board member Rob Clark voted against. 

Richards said the final version of the budget represents a reduction in taxes for homeowners of 9.3 percent and 6.8 percent for commercial property owners. 

"I don't know how many communities in this county reduced taxes but we did," Richards said. 

The final version included cuts to the building department and reductions in the planning and zoning offices that were proposed before the final budget vote was taken at a board meeting last Tuesday. According to Richards, eliminating Stahlman's assistant inspector position and reducing full-time Building Inspector Charles Haseley's job to part-time reduced costs by $110,562. Richards characterized the building department cuts as just the latest in what he described as his administration's ongoing effort to reduce the size of town government, noting that the town also cut a janitor position this year and consolidated an elected tax collector's post with the town clerk to save money last year. 

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