WEST SENECA, NY — The West Seneca Town Board may vote Monday night on a new budget, which originally proposed raising taxes by up to 12 percent. Officials say town costs have shot up with employee contracts, especially for the highway department.
But taxpayers are frustrated.
Hundreds of West Seneca residents packed hearings last month to grill the Town Board about spending and the suggested tax hike of 12 percent. One council member told 2 on Your Side that it may be trimmed down to seven or eight percent or lower.
Supervisor Sheila Meegan explained a large part of any increase involves necessary infrastructure improvements but also town employee contracts with soaring costs for employee health care and worker's compensation.
Meegan also explained that her $9,000 salary increase last year was justified with the point that her position gets no health insurance benefits. But she acknowledged her husband has coverage as a town highway department staffer. That raised an issue which 2 on Your Side asked about, "Do you have any concern that the average taxpayer watching this is gonna question if you really have a strong motivation to cut costs...knowing that your husband is getting some of these benefits that benefit you?
Meegan replied, "I honestly I have to tell you right now that I am doing the best I can within the circumstances I have. And I will tell you that my husband has worked for the town for almost 30 years."
Reporter: "Should you abstain perhaps from some of these votes though on contracts affecting your husband?"
Meegan replied, "The legalities of that ..we could ask labor counsel if there is something there that I shouldn't be voting on."
In response to a 2 On Your Side Request, Town Attorney John Fenz tells reporter Ron Plants that according to NYS General Municipal Law, an officer is deemed NOT to have a conflict of of interest where he or she is acting on a contract of employment involving their spouse.