Gaines cuts town taxes by 9 percent

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 November 2016 at 7:50 am

However, fire protection rate sees big increase in 2017

GAINES – The Town Board approved the 2017 budget on Wednesday that reduces taxes by 8.5 percent, with the town-wide tax rate dropping from $3.90 per $1,000 of assessed property to $3.37.

Property owners outside the Village of Albion will see their tax rate fall from $4.67 to $4.19.

The town will collect less in taxes to support the town’s general and highway funds. This is the second straight budget residents are getting a reduction. The tax levy, what the town collects in taxes, has decreased from $279,500 in 2015 to $268,500 in 2016 to $245,550 in the next budget. That’s a $33,950 decrease over two years, or a tax cut of 12.1 percent.

Town Supervisor Carol Culhane said the Town Board and department heads have worked hard to bring down taxes for residents.

“We have a great team here,” she said during Wednesday’s Town Board meeting.

One resident, Bob Nashburn, thanked the board for a tax reduction.

“I congratulate you guys,” Nashburn told the board during a public hearing on the budget. “For 39 years my taxes went up, up, up.”

Gaines was able to reduce taxes partly by using more fund balance or money from its reserves. In 2016, Gaines used $9,917.60 in fund balance. In 2017, the town will use $28,773.80.

The town also is benefitting from a big increase in assessments, fueled by Intergrow Greenhouses.

The town’s assessed value is up 7.4 percent or by $8,593,053, going from $116,551,683 in 2016 to $125,144,736 for 2017.

Residents outside the village will see an increase in their fire protection rates, raising those rates from 32 cents to 71 cents per $1,000 of assessed property.

In the 2016 budget, Gaines paid the Village of Albion $35,305 for fire protection. In 2017, that cost is up to $90,000.

Overall spending in the budget – 10 water districts, general and highway funds – will increase from $1,289,469 to $1,334,643.

Culhane said the board is looking at a capital improvement project at the Town Hall. Gaines received a $75,000 state grant for energy-efficiency projects. Culhane said the building will likely be insulated with new windows, and an enclosed porch area at the front of the building.

The town is working on the scope of the project and expects to seek bids for the work in the spring with the project to be completed in the fall. Culhane said the town has been setting aside funds for building improvements and could spend $50,000 from its own money for the improvements.

The Town Hall opened in 1991, and Culhane said there hasn’t been many changes to the site since then.

“It has held up quite well, but we all agree it is not energy efficient,” Culhane said.