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East Otto overrides tax levy cap for 2014 town budget, by 60 percent vote

EAST OTTO — Public hearings were held on the proposed tax cap override and the 2014 preliminary town budget, during the Nov. 12 East Otto Town Board meeting. No public comments were heard, during either hearing.

Mike Poch was authorized to pay all general and highway fund bills audited. The audit of the October 2013 prepaid utility bills was accepted.

Town Clerk Ann Rugg paid Supervisor James Beach $237, for October 2013 fees and commissions.

Highway Superintendent Tom Benz met with a contractor at the gravel pit on Thompson Road. He estimated it would cost at least $5,000 to reclaim the property, which will depend on what the sportsmen’s club decides. There has been an increase in the cost of salt. The loader has about 300 hours of operation and, according to the town’s agreement, it will cost approximately $3,710 to purchase a new loader. The board voted to continue the new loader program for another year, for an approximate cost of $3,710.

Beach reported that the preservation supporters may be willing to help pay for Christmas lights for the town, if the board decides to purchase them.

The Community Blood Bank was approved to hold blood drives at the town hall.

Beach met with Larry Steinbar, to learn what it will take to add some electrical outlets in the gymnasium.

The preservation supporters are looking into purchasing some signs, to label areas of historical interest around town.

A request was received from Elizabeth O’Neill to hold movie nights at the town hall.

Local Law No. 1-2013, to override the tax levy limit established in General Municipal Law 3-c, was adopted. That law states that the town may “override the limit on the amount of real property taxes that may be levied by the town of East Otto, county of Cattaraugus, pursuant to General Municipal Law § 3-c.”

Overriding the tax levy requires a 60 percent majority vote.

This law will take effect immediately upon filing with the secretary of state.

There was also discussion on the 2014 preliminary budget. The final budget was adopted and will see increase of 8.6 percent.

The board also discussed increasing the hourly rate of the highway department deputy superintendent from $.25-$1. Benz said that he believes that, based on what other towns have done, $1 is too much and suggested $.50, instead. Beach said that he did not feel that what other towns have done should be a consideration.

The salary was increased to $.50 per hour.

Rich Grey prepared a worksheet showing the cost of several different options for employee health insurance benefits, listing the approximate cost to the town. The board decided to choose the option that allowed for a $573 per-employee benefit, for a yearly cost of $34,380 to the town.

The second November meeting took place on Nov. 19.

A public hearing on the 2014 Fire Protection Contract was scheduled for Dec. 10 at 9 p.m.

Beach reminded residents that all Basic STAR recipients need to re-apply, by the end of the year.

Resident Ann McCabe addressed the board. She read from a letter that said she was “very upset by the way the board handled the budget preparations, most specifically the health insurance and the raise for the deputy highway superintendent.” She added that she felt “the board showed blatant disregard for the highway employees, in the comments that were made and actions that were taken at the budget meetings on Oct. 24 and Nov. 12.

Bill McCabe also addressed the board. He said that he felt the way the board handled the process was a “kick in the teeth or slap in the face” to all the men in the shop. He noted that he felt that what was said was demeaning.

There was some discussion about the inequity in the deputy highway superintendent pay and the pay for the other employees.

The next town board meeting will take place on Dec. 10 at 8 p.m.
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