GOWANDA - The public had its say at a public hearing held by the Gowanda Village Board. Residents came out to speak out in favor or against of the proposed budget.
Mayor Heather McKeever welcomed those in attendance and said during this year's budget process, the village board considered services.
"It is my goal to ensure a continuation of the services that the residents have come to depend on in a manner that is both comprehensive, yet fiscally responsible," she said.
The proposed budget which raises taxes 2.91 percent in Cattaraugus County and 1.52 percent in Erie County, has a tax levy of $1,007,949, a 2 percent increase over last year. McKeever said the assessed valuation has declined over several years, citing a decrease of $72,000 in Erie County and a decrease of $260,020 in Cattaraugus County over the past five years.
Resident Ron Claybill asked why taxes keep going up in the village. McKeever said the village determines the amount of money they need to run the village. Since sales tax is not growing in Cattaraugus County, the village had to be realistic when estimating during the budget process. Erie County tax rates seem to be growing. This is why the two counties have different tax rates.
Jacqueline Hovey, director of the Gowanda Library, addressed the village board and thanked them for support in the budget.
"Thank you guys for continuing to support the library," she said. "We really appreciate you keeping (the library) where we were at."
Included in the budget this year will be a business incubator program which will utilize existing village space to create economic development opportunities. It is also necessary for the village to stay in compliance with state and federal training regulations. To ensure the village's departments and workers are still in compliance, McKeever is including a stipend for a training supervisor to oversee all village departments. The cost for the stipend and the incubator program will be $6,000.
To cut costs, the village will also be consolidating duplicative services. In the proposed budget, an assessor and animal control services are cut. Both the town of Collins and the town of Persia cover the village. Village residents must go to the town for dog licenses and the village uses town assessment values. By eliminating these duplicate services, the village will be saving $8,500.
The village board is supposed to vote on the budget at the regular village board meeting tonight at 7 p.m.
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