MORIAH — The new Moriah town budget easily stayed under the state’s 2 percent tax cap
“We did it. We held the line,” Town Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava said this week. “We’re under the cap.”
The tax levy in the 2013 budget is up 1.9 percent, from $1.84 million to $1.89 million, excluding fire districts.
The budget totals $4.08 million, including all special districts.
The public hearing on the tentative budget is at 6 tonight in the Moriah Town Courthouse on Park Place in Port Henry.
Scozzafava said they carried over a $10,000 fund balance from last year and saved $10,000 on less expensive retiree benefits.
But health insurance went up 15 percent. The mandatory State Retirement System contribution from the town increased by $15,000.
The tentative spending plan includes 2 percent raises for employees and some elected officials; no increases are budgeted for the town supervisor, councilors, justices and Board of Assessors chairman.
Scozzafava said town employees in the Teamsters Union were scheduled to get 3 percent contractual raises but gave back 1 percent to help the town in exchange for a three-year contract extension. They will get 2 percent in raises each year in that contract, which ends in 2015.
Water and sewer-system rates will stay the same, Scozzafava said.
“We have a huge infrastructure in this town: four water districts, miles and miles of roads.”
The estimated town tax rate rate is $7.95 per $1,000 of assessment, same as last year, outside the Village of Port Henry, not including any special districts. For village residents in the town, the rate would be $6.72 per $1,000 of assessment, up from $6.50 this year.
The tax levy for Fire District 1, Moriah, is $75,000, up $1,000, and for District 2, Mineville-Witherbee, it’s the same as in this year’s budget, $57,000. The tax rates would be about the same, at $1.31 for Fire District 1 and 94 cents for District 2.
The town’s total tax levy, with the fire districts included, is $2.02 million, up from $1.9 million last year.
‘ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM’
The biggest increases in the budget are for health insurance and the Retirement System, Scozzafava said.
“Retirement and health insurance have been the elephant in the room. Personnel costs are 70 percent of our budget.”
The town saved about $15,000 by transferring maintenance of the Moriah Health Center in Mineville to Hudson Headwaters Health Network, which operates the town-owned facility, he said.
The town is considering increasing fees at the Moriah trash transfer station in Mineville, to make it break even, Scozzafava said.
“We were in the red this year at the transfer station. We need to raise $40,000 more.”
Scozzafava praised Senior Accounts Clerk Becki Gilbo for her work putting together a balanced budget.
The budget includes no layoffs, but no equipment or vehicle purchases either, the supervisor said.
“We provide the services (we) need to provide.”
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