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2006 budget with tax hikes is approved
News Northtowns Bureau
The Grand Island Town Board has approved a 2006 budget that features a tax-rate increase of 1.9 percent in the general fund and 3.9 percent in the highway fund.

The general fund is $5.4 million, a $168,000 increase from this year's budget. The tax rate will increase to $2.72 per $1,000 of assessed valuation from $2.67, up 1.9 percent.

Appropriations for the highway fund are up by $215,000 over this year's spending, to $2.3 million. The highway tax rate will rise by 3.9 percent. The increase is 11 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, to $2.92.

The sewer fund reflects the largest increase, 8.9 percent, to $2.7 million, from $2.5 million.

The Town Board approved the spending plans Monday night.

Councilman Daniel Robillard voted against the fire district and wastewater budgets. Robillard said he does not approve of financial management of the fire department, and he opposed the wastewater budget because he is "fed up with fraud and thievery by a few members of the remote crew."

Earlier in the year, four wastewater employees were suspended for selling some of the department's scraps and keeping the profits. Robillard said they should have been fired. But Town Supervisor Peter A. McMahon said that the union defended them and that negotiations resulted in 90-day suspensions.

Town officials had feared that the tax burden on residents would be more severe under one Erie County scenario that would have made municipalities pay for the services of the Sheriff's Department. The town would have been required to foot the $500,000 annual bill for the patrol services, an increase of 80 cents per $1,000.

However, that provision was not part of a county budget approved recently.

The following are the special districts:

Water - $2.6 million, with a tax rate of $5.78 per $1,000, a 7.9 percent decrease. Rates for water use would remain unchanged from 2005 at $2.70 per 1,000 gallons.

Wastewater - $2.7 million, with a tax rate of $5.68 per $1,000. Sewer rates would increase 5 cents, to $4.25 per 1,000 gallons.

Garbage - $851,886, or $123 per dwelling, a 3.9 percent decrease from $128 in 2005.

Lighting $183,666 for 40 districts, with varying tax rates.

Fire - $820,205, an increase of 9.4 percent.