WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Town of West Seneca board passed an amended budget Monday night with a 8.6 percent tax increase.
Hundreds of residents have turned out at two public meetings over the past month, after Supervisor Sheila Meegan proposed a 12 percent tax hike.
Councilmembers Eugene Hart and Bill Hanley reviewed the budget after the public hearings and found cost savings. Hart said they were able to save the most on healthcare costs and scaling back the road improvement projects.
Councilmember Hart proposed the amended budget. He said the 8.6 percent increase means a resident with a home valued at $150,000 will see his or her taxes increase by $97 per year. Under the proposed 12 percent tax hike, the same resident would’ve seen his or her taxes increase by $338 per year.
Supervisor Meegan also voted for the 8.6 percent tax hike. Councilmember Hanley voted against it.
“I think there’s some cuts that could’ve been made,” said Hanley. “There will be hard choices, move some manpower around. There are some efficiencies there. I think our overtime lines were a little over inflated so I’d like to eliminate the overtime.
Residents at Monday’s meeting were visibly upset by the passing of the amended budget. Some called for Supervisor Sheila Meegan’s resignation.
“You cannot expect us to respect you when you tell us you have to raise our taxes and you’re giving yourself exorbitant raises on the backs of the taxpayers?” said Sue McAneney, who lives in the town.
She asked the Town Clerk, Highway Superintendent, among other officials what their raises will be this year. They each answered “I don’t know.”
Councilmember Hart said previous town boards poorly negotiated contracts with employees.
“They left a legacy that’s very difficult to deal with,” he said. “There was nothing we could do about employee contracts because they weren’t up until almost the middle of my second term. My position is we need concessions, I don’t always get what I want.”
He also said there have been unforeseen costs for the town.
“I didn’t see a four percent increase in healthcare all by itself,” he said. “There was a tremendous increase in the workman’s compensation we’re paying last year, that went up.”
There is a local law both council members had to consider as they voted Monday night. According to Councilmember Hanley, if they both voted no to the 8.6 percent increase, Supervisor Meegan’s budget and 12 percent increase would’ve gone into effect automatically. Councilmember Hanley said he may have changed his vote if his colleague also planned to vote no to the amended budget.