HANOVER - Towns in Chau-tauqua County have recently been handed down some bad news from the county - workers' compensation will now be collected by the towns.
Although in theory taxpayers will not have to pay more because they already pay for this in county taxes, Town of Hanover Budget Officer Elmar Kiefer said this is not good for towns that would like to stay under the 2 percent tax cap.
He explained the town recently received a letter from the county saying instead of the town paying the worker's compensation through a charge back it will now have to include it in its budget.
He said this will raise the budget by over $61,000, twice as much as the town could raise in the levy.
"Our total 2 percent that we're supposed to stay within is $30,000. Our New York state retirement alone went up $26,000. That leaves us $4,000 before we look at anything else. I'll guarantee you our health insurance has gone up more than $4,000. So we've already cut what we are not supposed to go over and now we've got a $61,500 bill," he said.
Legislator George Borrello attended the meeting and said this was the first he was hearing of the change because the legislature will not see the county budget until the regular meeting Wednesday.
Kiefer said this is a way the county can make it look like it has decreased its budget deficit by passing the buck onto the town.
"If they do that to everybody figure however many hundreds of thousands of dollars they don't have to levy. Now they can use that to balance their budget. It's the trickle down effect, when it comes down we are the last level ... and we are stuck with the same 2 percent just like everybody else," he said.
Kiefer added the town's worker's compensation charges have almost doubled in the last three years. The board asked if Kiefer could look into the cost of doing worker's compensation through another agency besides the county.
Later, the board held a public hearing for Local Law No. 4 of 2012 to override the tax cap. However, the board said it's goal is still to aim for 2 percent or under even in light of the change in worker's compensation charges.
"It is good everybody understands why we are doing this. In light of the information Mr. Kiefer gave us tonight, it is not the intention of the town board to go over the cap. It is just a protection so we don't get in trouble with the fire protection districts still on the 5 percent escalator," Councilman Kevin O'Connell said.
In other business:
Water/Sewer Superintendent Harold Anger announced his retirement as of Oct. 19. The board thanked him for his 32 years in service to the town and congratulated him on his retirement.
The board reappointed John Novak to the board of assessment review for another 5 year term.
Highway Superintendent Steve D'Angelo reported if the DEC does not issue a permit to the town in short order for the drainage project for Sunset Bay, the project will not be done this year.
Anger reported a meeting with Crown Castle about additional antennas on the cellphone tower near the water tower. He said he anticipates they will contact the town soon.
The board's next meeting will be held Oct. 9 in observance of Columbus Day.