By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — SCHROON — The Town of Schroon’s 2013 budget exceeds the state’s 2 percent tax-levy cap by almost 6 percent.
The Schroon Town Council voted to approve the spending plan with a tax-levy hike of 7.9 percent.
First, the council had to pass, by a 60 percent majority, a local law to exceed the cap. It did so by unanimous vote.
The amount to be raised by taxes in 2013 is about $2.35 million, an increase of $172,960 from the current levy of $2.18 million.
Schroon Town Supervisor Michael Marnell said town officials had trimmed everything they felt could be cut.
He said that to meet the state’s 2 percent tax-levy cap, Schroon could have raised taxes only $55,396, so they would have had to slice another $121,637 from the budget.
“There’s no spare money in this budget. We’re being as frugal as we can be.”
Schroon cut its Labor Day fireworks show and three seasonal positions at the town-owned golf course and reduced contributions to contract agencies by 10 percent in the budget.
The 2013 spending plan includes a 10.4 percent increase in the cost of employee health insurance, and Marnell said that alone would have taken them over the state cap.
In the previous budget, the town used $250,000 from its fund balance to stay under the cap, but it is out of fund balance now.
Town employees will get a 30-cent-an-hour raise in the budget, and elected officials will get 2 percent pay increases.
Marnell said town employees haven’t had pay increases in three years and that he took an $8,000 cut when he took office this year. His salary, with the increase, will be $34,680 next year.
The 2013 Schroon budget totals $4.28 million, a 1.5 percent decrease from this year’s $4.35 million.
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