By ALVIN REINER
---- — WESTPORT — Retirement, insurance and highway increases account for a 2013 Town of Westport budget that includes a tax-levy increase of 2.89 percent, which is under the allowable state cap.
“The town board worked diligently to bring this budget in under the cap,” Town Supervisor Dan Connell said of the proposed budget.
“This is the second year in a row with no salary increases for town employees. Retirement and insurance costs are the major factors driving the increases,” he said.
State Retirement Fund costs went up from 18.5 percent to 20.5 percent of salary, and health insurance had a 15 percent increase.
“The only way to reduce these costs is to lay off workers,” Connell said.
The budget totals $1,899,444, up 1.35 percent from this year.
The tax levy, which is the amount of the budget to be raised by property taxes, is $865,277. Connell said that due to Westport having funds left over from last year, the town could have increased the levy as much as 3.5 percent and still come within the state mandate.
The tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value increased from this year’s $3.56 to a proposed $3.71, which is an increase of 4 percent. A $100,000 home can expect a town tax of $371.
The total assessed value for the town is $224,957,466, of which $29,542,422 is tax exempt.
The Department of Public Works budget has an increase of $24,000, which is attributed to costs for keeping equipment operating beyond the usual turn-around time.
“That’s what is killing us. We have to keep this old equipment, and meeting state mandates has driven the cost of this department up,” Connell said.
There are no major projects or purchases in the new budget. And none of the elected officials or town employees will get a pay increase.
Additional taxes are assessed for properties receiving town water. Water District 1’s rate will be 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, and Sewer District 1 will ask 30 cents per $1,000. Both are the same as this year.
The Westport Town Council is scheduled to vote on the 2013 budget as part of its regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, in the Westport Town Hall.
All board meetings are open to the public.
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