By Rich Place

Last week, the Ellicottville Town Board unanimously passed its 2018 budget with a tax rate of 1.27 per $1,000, a figure the board touted as one of the best in the region.

“Our highlight every year in our low rate,” said Town Supervisor Matthew McAndrew, following the town board meeting. “We got — if not the lowest — one of the lowest in the county.”

McAndrew said the creation of the engineering department, which will be a shared service between the town and village through an agreement by both municipalities, was one of the challenges in developing next year’s spending plan.

“We are hoping we are going to get grant money but we have to budget a certain amount to get it off the ground and that was a certain amount we didn’t have last year,” he said.

McAndrew said he was satisfied with many aspects of the budget, including the increase in wages and continual work to maintain a healthy fund balance.

“Not only do we have a low tax rate, but we are maintaining a healthy fund balance,” he said. “This board recognized that for years before I even got here — the importance of it. It’s a nice place to live when you can do that.

“And we are able to make improvements,” McAndrew continued. In reference to the town hall, he said, “We put central air in this building last year, and that’s a huge improvement. Our roads are getting in better shape and in the future we are going to tackle more culverts.”

The board also worked with town officials to develop a five-year plan for equipment replacement and some town infrastructure.

“We are slowly starting to develop that and it’s going to make it easier to plan ahead in the coming months,” McAndrew said.

During the Nov. 15 town board meeting, McAndrew thanked the board for its work in the budget planning process.

“And we’d like to thank you as well,” added town board member Ken Hinman.

Also at meeting, board members heard a positive update from engineer Mark Alianello concerning the progress of the Ellicottville-Great Valley (EVGV) Trail.

He reported the town received a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers for wetlands work in the section of trail from Tim Hortons to the Town Center off Fillmore Avenue.

McAndrew said, following the meeting, that trail planners did their best to keep wetland disturbance to a minimum with the trail section and have been working for more than a year to receive the permit.