Town of Webster adopts 2021 town budget
Former supervisor comments on this year’s budget process
Webster, NY - The Webster Town Board officially adopted the 2021 town budget during their Nov. 19 board meeting.
Back in October, Webster residents were given the opportunity to voice their questions and concerns during a public hearing regarding the proposed 2021 Webster Town Budget. The public hearing was held virtually, as Town Board meetings were still closed to in-person attendance due to COVID-19.
According to former Webster Town Supervisor Ronald Nesbitt, residents should have been given the opportunity to make in-person comments prior to final budget approval.
“The night of the Preliminary Budget, the Webster Community was told to send in an email for the Town Board to answer our budget questions, instead of in person,” Nesbitt wrote in a public Facebook post on his official page.
The Town of Webster did run a schedule of the budget process - which included the date of the public hearing - multiple times in the Webster Herald newspaper. It was also published in agendas and legal notices.
According to current Webster Town Supervisor Thomas Flaherty, in comments he made during the budget public hearing on Oct. 15, he had received questions regarding the budget via email prior to the public hearing.
Nesbitt says, according to the Town’s website, on Nov. 5, the Webster community should have been given the opportunity to speak with the Town Board in an open discussion regarding the 2021 budget.
“That didn’t happen because it was never put on the November 5 Town Board agenda,” Nesbitt wrote. “So, at this point in time, the Webster community has never had the opportunity to personally speak to the Town Board about the 2021 budget at a meeting, and the board has taken the liberty to give themselves a raise without comments from residents paying their wages.”
That’s not to say the former supervisor believes the Town Board should have disregarded COVID-19 safety measures.
“They can’t blame this on COVID because at any Planning Board or Zoning Board meeting, speakers are kept outside the Board Room until they can come in and speak to the board one at a time,” wrote Nesbitt. “This opportunity was never offered to Town residents during the whole budget process.”
Webster Online reached out to Supervisor Flaherty regarding Nesbitt’s remarks. Flaherty declined to comment.
During the Nov. 19 meeting, Town Finance Director Paul Adams noted that the final, approved budget had not changed since the preliminary budget was adopted two months ago.
He also pointed out that the final budget turned out to be more than $68,000 under the NYS tax cap. Adams explained that the Town of Webster’s NYS police and fire department retirement contribution went up to more than 2%. When that happens, the state grants an extra credit for the municipality to expand the cap.
“Which I wasn’t aware of upfront,” Adams said at the meeting. “So it’s good news. The even better news is that carries over into next year.”
The full 2021 Preliminary Town Budget is available via the Town’s website.