BY LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — PORT HENRY — Work is getting started on a new Port Henry village budget that officials say may exceed the state’s 2 percent tax cap.
Increases in costs for the State Retirement System, workers’ compensation, health insurance and equipment may force them to exceed the cap, village officials said.
The Village Board has passed a spending freeze, making board approval mandatory for all purchases.
The draft budget shows general and highway expenditures at about $871,000, up from $823,000 in last year’s spending plan.
The Village Board held one budget meeting already to get started on the 2013-14 spending plan, and several meetings will be required before they have a final budget, Mayor Ernest Guerin said.
The next public budget workshop is set for 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, at the Village Hall. The meeting is open to all.
“We’ll probably hold one more meeting after this, and we’ll tweak it on the fourth one,” Guerin said. “I’m not sure if we’ll stay within the cap.
“We’ll know more after this workshop.”
The Village Board previously passed the required local law allowing it to exceed the state tax cap if necessary.
The draft budget includes no raises for elected officials.
“We’re taxpayers, too,” Guerin said. “We’re trying to keep it down as much as possible.”
Last year’s budget exceeded the state cap with a 4.4 percent tax increase and a tax levy at $517,580. No levy amount has been determined for the next budget because discussions are still under way.
Village employees got a 3 percent pay increase last time, but it’s not known if they’ll get a raise for 2013-14. The Village Department of Public Works is represented by the Teamsters Union, and the current contract will expire on May 31. The village received a letter from Teamsters Local 294 requesting that the village set a date for negotiations.
The Village Board plans to hire professional negotiator Daniel McKillup of Lake Placid to hammer out the Teamsters agreement on behalf of the village.
Village Trustees Matthew Brassard and Ruth McDonough will represent the Village Board in negotiations.
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