WESTFIELD - Westfield town officials will hear the public's thoughts tonight about a local law to exceed the state's 2 percent tax cap.
The Westfield Town Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed local law at 7:25 p.m. tonight before its regular board meeting.
Just as the town did in 2011, the law is designed to cover the town should it make a mistake in calculating its tax levy limit. In addition to allowing for any errors on the town's part, two other issues will have impacts on Westfield's 2013 budget - the bonding of the special Barcelona water district and a change in the way worker's compensation insurance is paid.
"We're not sure exactly what we will be facing, but we're getting ready," said Martha Bills, town supervisor, during a recent meeting.
According to Bills, tax levy limit calculations were incorrect in 70 percent of the municipalities the state comptroller's office audited in the last year.
For the first time, municipalities purchasing workman's compensation insurance in a cooperative agreement through Chautauqua County will have to add the expense, along with the taxes collected to pay for the expense, into their budgets. In the past, even though the municipalities collected the taxes to pay for the insurance through property taxes, it was never on the municipalities' books.
For Westfield, the added cost will be around $20,000 for 2013. Even though the town will not increase taxes, it will be collecting more taxes on paper and the added amount will be included as part of the town's tax cap amount.
Board members also don't know when bond payments for the Barcelona water district will be made. If it takes place anytime in 2013, it will impact the budget by causing the town to raise more money than it did last year, another factor in the calculated tax levy limit.
In other business, Jim Herbert warned the water level in the harbor of Daniel Reid Pier in Barcelona was reaching a critical low point.
"It's going to get worse," he said. "It's in bad shape."
The issue is a combination of the water level dropping while the bottom of the lake keeps rising.
"It's going to take a lot of money to get it fixed," Herbert said.