Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — WILSON — By a split vote, the Village Board restored funding for a targeted public works job in the tentative 2014-2015 budget Wednesday.
Village trustees Gary Darnell and Jerry Kadryna voted in favor of restoring the $50,000 line item to the roughly $1.12 million spending plan. Mayor Bernie Leiker cast the “no” vote.
At a contentious public hearing on the proposed budget last week, Leiker insisted cutting the public works position, which is occupied by a 37-year employee, was necessary to hold down the village tax rate.
By his calculations, with a new water bond payment added in, the rate was projected to rise to $7.73 per $1,000 of assessed property value from $7.70 — and that was with the public works job zeroed out. Adding that salary back in would force a nearly 18 percent increase in overall spending, he said.
Darnell and Kadryna voted Wednesday to put it back in anyway, then proposed alternative spending cuts worth about $23,000.
A part-time highway department position will be eliminated, the amount of money that the village sets aside for the water tower restoration fund will be reduced to $12,500 from $20,000, and the proposed increase in the law budget will be scaled back to $25,000 from $30,000.
The law budget, $16,000 this year, is being increased in anticipation of the need to hire an attorney to represent the village in employee union negotiations.
With the amendments, the overall budget still stands at around $1.12 million but the precise impact on the tax rate was not calculated by the board Wednesday.
Whatever the impact is, it’s going to be “too much” for homeowners, Leiker said. He’s worried about the state of the village and said he’s open to the possibility of it dissolving into the surrounding town.
“If you look at what’s happening in Medina, their taxpayers are saving a lot of money,” he said.
The Medina Village Board has not acted on a dissolution plan that was proposed by a citizens’ committee last month. The plan predicted substantial tax rate reduction for villagers — and rate increases for the two towns that it lies the village.