MALONE — A public hearing on the proposed Town of Malone 2014 budget, with its 7.25 percent tax-levy increase, drew only a handful of questions.
Two people questioned water rates during public-comment periods about the town’s east-side and west-side districts, and two Malone Callfiremen officers spoke in favor of the town’s two-year proposed contract with their department.
Patrick Sherwin, who was running for a Town Council seat at the time but lost his bid the next night, questioned why employee raises are included in the spending plan.
Town Supervisor Howard Maneely said Highway Department union members were getting a contracted raise and that it seemed only fair to give other employees raises “because they keep us going.”
Each Town Council member is paid $5,500 a year, and Maneely is paid $13,750. He said the Town Council has not had a raise in eight years.
“The amount of the raises is negligible on the tax rate,” Town Council member Jack Sullivan said.
The budget is expected to be adopted at the next Town Council meeting, set for at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, at Malone Dufort Airport.
“This was a tough, tough budget,” the supervisor said.
EXCEEDS TAX CAP
The overall spending plan is $3,572,234, an increase of 5.75 percent.
The tax levy, or the amount to be raised by taxes, is $2,778,045, up 7.25 percent. The Town Council agreed to override the state-mandated tax-levy cap at a previous meeting.
The tax rate per $1,000 of assessed-property value for a property inside the Village of Malone is $4.40, an increase of 10.83 percent.
The tax rate per $1,000 for a property outside the village is $8.61, an increase of 5.9 percent.
The owner of a property inside the village assessed at $100,000 would pay about $43 more in 2014, and an owner of a property assessed at $100,000 outside the village would be assessed about $48 more next year.
Budget Officer Andrew Stewart said the rates may go up slightly because the town is involved in a legal battle over assessments challenges on certain properties. That may be settled soon.
Water rates in the east-side district will go from $134.43 to $153.97 for the 158 equivalent-dwelling units, and rates for the 307 equivalent-dwelling units in the west-side district will go from $109.60 to $107.21.
Dave Farden does not tap into the town’s water system but still must pay a half-EDU fee because the water line runs past his property. He wanted to know if his bill will go down once the original 20-year debt to create and build the east-side district is paid off in six years.
Stewart explained there are monthly utility costs for electricity and a telephone line associated with the east side since it includes a pumping station, as well as annual maintenance and upkeep.
He said there is also the cost of having to re-levy unpaid water bills and keep a modest reserve account to pay for any equipment needs or upgrades to the system.
That account has around $12,000 in it now, and about $2,000 is added each year.
Malone Callfiremen asked for $440,000 in each year of a two-year fire-protection agreement, an increase of $13,000 a year.
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