Thanks to a growth in the town tax base and interest gained on the town’s reserves, Wheatfield residents will likely see a tax bill $10 lighter next year.

It is the 12th straight year taxes have gone down, Supervisor Timothy Demler said Thursday. Demler presented his draft of the town’s 2007 budget, which will be reviewed by town councilmen and department heads before passage, which is expected next month.

Demler boasted, despite the tax cut, of increased services in the budget, including funding for a new $1.4 million recreation and youth center and improved water and sewer infrastructure. The town saw $28 million in new residential and commercial taxable property enter the town in 2007.

Budget director Ed McAllister said total spending is up about $200,000 over last year, with the total budget resting at $10.5 million. The town will maintain its unallocated reserve of $1.6 million, or roughly 20 percent of its operating budget.

Demler used the budget roll out and accompanying tax cuts to criticize other local leaders for failing to follow his board’s lead.

“In a time when most municipalities are raising taxes and cutting services, especially the school districts, Wheatfield, again, is the exception by improving quality of life services and reducing taxes,” Demler said.

Taking specific aim at Judith Howard, superintendent of Niagara-Wheatfield schools, Demler charged that the district’s recent tax hikes for residents should and could be avoided.

“The problem here is Judy Howard has never had to sit down with a business and gotten them to try to relocate here. The school districts don’t have to live in reality,” he said. “They don’t have to deal with the business community. They have to get real.”

Demler was optimistic about the future and maintaining both an increase in services and a decrease in taxes, arguing that development will follow when taxes are cut.

“I believe, 10 years from now, we’ll be saying the same thing,” he said.

Councilman Larry Helwig, who attended Demler’s press conference, said he hasn’t yet seen the budget line for line, but was optimistic about another tax cut.

“It sounds good, if we keep doing what we’re doing,” Helwig said. “The town board works hard with the supervisor to keep taxes down.”

Also on hand for the roll out was Tom Christy, an anchor with Lockport Community Television and spokesman for the group Fiscal Accountability, Integrity and Responsibility in Government (FAIR). Christy’s group is seeking to make municipal budgets more accessible to the public. Demler handed over a CD-ROM of his budget, so Christy could post it on the Internet in its full form for residents to access.

“Local governments should have nothing that’s secret,” Christy said. “Wheatfield is a shining example of open government.”

Demler’s is the first local budget turned over to FAIR, Christy said.

Trending Video

Recommended for you