Press-Republican

November 8, 2012

Chazy hopes to overide tax cap

By DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

---- — CHAZY — The loss of tax revenue from the former Pfizer plant likely means the Town of Chazy will have to override the 2 percent cap for the 2013 budget. 

The Town Council will hold a series of public hearings at 7 p.m. today at the Town Hall on Route 9, including one on the override, another on the proposed spending plan and a third on changes to the Zoning Law. 

Chazy Town Supervisor Staub Spiegel said the tax-levy increase would be $920,132, 5.4 percent more than this year’s $883,872 for the general and highway funds. 

The main reason is the loss of $52,953 in property taxes from the Pfizer facility, due to a tax-abatement agreement with that helped the County of Clinton Industrial Development Agency acquire the property through formation of a limited liability corporation.

That allowed the property to be marketed for an additional two years.

“If you take the Pfizer situation out of here, we’d be in good shape,” Spiegel said of the tentative budget.

Were Pfizer to pay taxes on the property, the levy would have only increased 1.67 percent, he said.

‘MISINFORMATION’

General-fund appropriations are expected to be $702,322, down from $1.045 million this year. Projected revenues are $248,548, which, combined with use of some fund balance leaves $343,774 to be raised by taxes.

Highway fund appropriations are expected to be $989,595, up from $991,827 in 2012. Revenues of about $255,220 will get some help from the fund balance, but that leaves a tax levy of $559,375.

Spiegel said the initial budget considered by the council would have increased the levy by more than 14 percent. They worked hard to reduce the increase to its current level, he said.

There has been misinformation spread around town, he said, about the proposed budget.

The supervisor said a constituent had requested a copy of the draft document after the most-recent budget meeting but was told it would be best for him to pick it up the next day, as some new figures had to be added in.

A 7 percent levy increase had been whittled down to 5.4 percent during the session, Spiegel said. 

The budget, Spiegel said Wednesday, “has always been available to anybody, but (Town Clerk Leo Oliver) wanted to get his calculations done first.”

Within a few days, notices appeared around town claiming the spending plan would be supported by a 7 percent levy and that town officials were not providing copies to the public. Not so, the supervisor said.

SOME PAY INCREASES

The plan as it stands now would give salary increases to elected officials. 

Spiegel’s annual pay would increase from $14,935 to an even $15,000.

The town clerk’s salary would go from $20,760 to $21,775. The highway superintendent’s pay would increase from $44,345 to $46,509.

No officials got raises in 2012.

The town has negotiated a contract with its Highway Department employees that includes a 2 percent increase in each of the next two years.

Changes to its health-insurance plan to help reduce costs, Spiegel said; employees will now contribute a larger share of the premiums.

Spiegel said he, personally, has stopped using the town’s insurance plan and is now covered by his other employer, which will save the town about $15,000 a year.

The town used about $110,000 of its general-fund balance and $175,000 of its highway-fund balance to further reduce the budget. 

That compares to $165,000 and $160,000 respectively in 2012.

And higher projections for Chazy’s share of Clinton County sales tax allowed further whittling down to the 5.4 percent increase.

The Chazy Volunteer Fire Department increased its budget by 5 percent, while its counterpart in West Chazy kept its spending plan static.

Email Dan Heath:

dheath@pressrepublican.com