Despite economic strain from pandemic, no tax increase in proposed Hamburg town budget

Oct 13, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many governments to raise, or consider raising taxes to account for deficits. That includes places like Nashville, Chicago, and California, but not in Hamburg according to Town Supervisor Jim Shaw.

Credit Town of Hamburg

“Zero point zero percent, no tax increase, taxes stay constant to what they were in 2020,” said Shaw

Shaw said the town took a hard look at reducing unneeded spending, and capitalizing on low interest rates to even update some of its facilities and services.

“We cut back on overtime, we cut back on out of town travel for seminars, we put a cap on new equipment or vehicle purchases,” Shaw said. “We also established a hiring freeze for part-time summer employees and full time employees.”

There’s no layoffs planned, but one position would be eliminated in the police department.

“We anticipate four retirements in the first few months of 2021,” said Shaw “one of those positions will remain vacant, so we’re not laying anyone off, one will be vacant, it’s eliminated by attrition.”

One welcomed decision is the state’s reversal on not sharing revenue from the Hamburg Casino and racetrack with the town. Shaw said while it was reduced, the funds will be much needed help to Hamburg’s pocketbook.

“Given the state’s financial difficulties, which are profound, we are relived to get 80% of the [casino] funding,” the town supervisor said.

Shaw said local government can’t operate like the federal government and run a deficit. It needs to work and take account for the needs of the community.

“The fact of the matter of it is there are a lot of people in our township, not to mention other areas throughout Erie County and Western New York, there are a lot of people who are really suffering. And what we can do in this time of suffering, is tighten our belts and hold the line," Shaw said. "It’s what we owe people morally, we [town government] can’t be excessive spenders when everyone else is struggling.”

The overall $47.7 million budget is a decrease from the previous year’s $48.7 million budget. It’ll go for a vote in front of the Town Board on November 16 for approval.