By JEFF MEYERS
---- — PERU — Residents in the Peru Water District face a tax-levy increase that is higher than the 2 percent limit allowed by New York state.
Town officials have maintained tax rates in the general and highway funds for 2013, but a $3.2 million bond for Water District upgrades will nearly double the 2012 figure for district residents.
“There’s nothing else we can do to take down the debt service (for water and sewer projects),” Town Supervisor Peter Glushko said.
The 2012 budget for revenue raised through the Water District tax rate was $241,143, or $1.71 per $1,000 of assessed value. The preliminary 2013 rate is just under $3.40 per $1,000 of assessed value, or $435,443 total.
Only those who own property within the boundaries of the Water District pay that tax.
The water project was mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency and Clinton County Health Department, Glushko said.
“We had no other options but to borrow the money to begin the project. Otherwise, we would have been forced to do it, with fines attached, or shut the water system down.
“We chose the more economical route.”
Upgrades were required for the town’s reservoir, water-treatment plant and holding tank. Work began earlier this year and is expected to continue into the first quarter of 2013.
“I expect that everyone (in the district) will be drinking pure, clean water by March,” the supervisor said. “The project is going well. We don’t expect any snags or changes in costs.”
FUND BALANCE HELPS
The town needs to raise $796,750 for its general fund, a small increase from $795,544 in 2012.
It will use $140,000 from its fund balance of $394,334 to keep the general tax levy down.
“The fund balance should increase as we continue to receive FEMA payments for Hurricane Irene damage,” Glushko said.
“We were able to keep numbers pretty even, even though we lost $2 million in property value because of the economy,” he added.
“Health-insurance costs keep going up, and retirement costs were up a bit, but we went through the budget, scrubbed things down where we could.”
Salaries for the town supervisor and town councilors will remain the same in 2013. Glushko makes $22,512 annually, while the councilors each receive $6,393.
All other town employees will receive a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase, Glushko noted.
The town clerk’s salary will rise from $22,299 to $22,634, and the town justices will see an increase from $16,864 to $17,117.
The Peru highway fund’s tax levy is set at the identical $977,382 collected in 2012.
The council will hold a public hearing at 6 tonight at the Town Hall to discuss a proposed local law to override the tax-levy limit of 2 percent established by the state.
A public hearing on the preliminary budget is set for 6:30 p.m.
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