HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) - How do you hold the line on taxes, when the cost of government keeps rising? The Town of Hamburg tried to wrestle that question Monday night.
Residents filled the Hamburg Town Hall for the public comments portion of the proposed 2013 budget. The biggest issue facing Hamburg, and many towns throughout the state, is the rising cost of pensions.
Since 2009, pensions costs have tripled in Hamburg, from $1.3 million in 2009 to $3.5 million next year.
Town Supervisor Steven Walters said, "This pension increase has come to a point where we simply cannot absorb those increases anymore through cuts because we've cut to the bone."
The proposed budget does not have major cuts. To make up the difference, taxes would rise. The tax levy would increase by 4.5 percent this year.
"Anytime you raise taxes, you don't want to do that," Walters said, "But at the same time, you have to weigh that with the services that you provide."
To help the state's pension problem, Governor Andrew Cuomo put into law what he calls a new "Tier 6," a reform measure to save the state and its cities from bankruptcy.
Governor Cuomo said, "Without pension reform, we would have seen exponential tax increases and layoffs to teachers, firefighters, and police. It would have been bad for everyone."
Walters says Governor Cuomo's pension reduction plan would help them, but not until farther down the road, and it would not help this year.
"It takes awhile for those changes to build into the actual system. So while that's good long term, it does not help the town short term," Walters said.
Town residents News 4 spoke with after the meeting seemed to think the tax increase was fair, and no one brought up any issues during public comments. The town's budget must be submitted by November 20.
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