Gowanda village board approves 2014-2015 budget

GOWANDA – Residents in Gow-anda will see a tax increase for the upcoming fiscal year. The Gowanda Village Board passed its budget, an increase of 2.93 percent over last year’s budget, Tuesday at a special meeting.

The approved budget is over the 1.48 percent tax cap with an increase of $28,000 in the tax levy; the amount to be raised by taxes for 2014-2015 is $1,271,070, while the total budget is $3,022,888. The tax rate for Erie County will be $18.01 per 1,000 dollars of assessed value and the rate for Cattaraugus County will be $15.35.

The budget includes a full-time officer for the Gowanda Police Department, funding to purchase a new plow truck and police vehicle, funding for website development and funding for a CodeRED program. Mayor Heather McKeever said since there is an increased dependency on technology in today’s government, investing in a new website and CodeRED is needed.

“I am hopeful that in the growing age of social media these tools will help with communication to our residents and facilitate needed economic development,” McKeever said.

The budget also includes funds for paying interest on a bond anticipation note for Federal Emergency Management Agency money, road repairs and an extra $1,500 in police revenue.

The village is looking into taking out a bond for street repairs. McKeever also brought up sewer and water rates, saying the rates have not increased since 2006 and 2003, respectively.

“Moving forward with the 2014-2015 budget in its present state, the water fund – being underfunded with revenue – is being carried by the general fund. We need to bring the water fund to a level that is self supporting and sustainable,” said McKeever. “There is no question that this year we will have to increase water rates and I will charge the water committee to help develop a reasonable rate schedule increase moving forward this next fiscal year.”

All the trustees voted in favor of the budget with the exception of Trustee Carol Sheibley who voted ‘no.’ She cited a large increase, almost 10 percent, in the police budget as the reasoning for not supporting the budget.

“The police budget this year is going up $19,000, which is a 9.3 percent tax increase. … There will be another full-time police officer added to the force; I don’t think we can afford it. I think we have very capable part-time police officers who have been serving this community for many years …,” she said.

Prior to passing the budget, the village board approved to override the tax cap. The village board voted to approve the override with Sheibley voting ‘no.’

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