Gowanda continues to work on budget

GOWANDA – The Gowanda Village Board is continuing to work on its budget. The most recent version of the budget, which is still not finalized, shows taxes increasing 5 percent.

The most recent increase is a decrease from an 11 percent increase proposed at the preliminary budget hearing in mid-April. The tax levy is proposed at $1,295,312 with a tax rate of $18.47 of per thousand dollars of assessed value for residents in Erie County and $15.71 for Cattaraugus County. The 2 percent tax cap this year is actually 1.48 percent – only an $18,000 increase. According to Mayor Heather McKeever, that increase would not cover the village’s projected utilities costs for next year.

One of the increases in the budget is for a full-time police officer for the police department. The police budget proposed for next year is at $264,525, an increase from $253,821 for the 2013-2014 budget. Officer in Charge Sean Hotnich attended a budget workshop prior to a recent board meeting to discuss the police budget. He said he would like to see a second full-time officer in the department. Even with 20 part-time officers, it is sometimes difficult to fill the schedule. He anticipates some officers will be resigning since they have scored high on recent local police exams. By adding a second full-time officer, more than 50 percent of the weekly patrol hours would be covered by the full-time employees.

“I’d like to see (the village) add a full-time officer and (decrease) the number of part-time officers,” Hotnich said.

Hotnich said he would like to purchase a new vehicle if possible. He gave the option of leasing a vehicle for $7,000 per year and said the patrol vehicles travel about 60,000 miles per year. The department’s patrol vehicles will have 140,000 and 100,000 miles, respectively next year at budget time.

Another purchase Hotnich would like is a barcode scanner for $5,800. He said the piece of equipment is an “absolute must” for evidence. Hotnich also spoke on potential revenue sources for the department; he is going to talk with the town courts to see if the village could offer a driving school as well as increase the price for copies requested by insurance companies.

The village board will continue to work on its budget on Friday at 5 p.m., at the village hall. The village board will have another meeting at 5:30 p.m., on Tuesday, April 29 to finalize the budget, if needed and to pass the budget.

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