CHAZY -- The tax levy in Chazy will drop 2.9 percent next year.

The levy is down about $30,000 from last year, according to Chazy Town Supervisor Staub Spiegel.

"I'm very happy with the budget," he said. "We've been able to save a lot of money."

The general tax rate was set at 85 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, down 21 cents from this year. The highway tax will be $2.13 per thousand, a 25-cent decrease.

The tax levy is the difference between the government's total expenses and total revenue, the remainder having to be raised by taxes.

The taxes that property owners pay fluctuate with assessments, so it is the tax levy that is the better determinant of how tax bills will change, not the tax rate.

RISING COSTS

The general fund is decreasing about 14 percent for 2008, and the highway fund is going down about 4 percent.

Appropriations for next year have gone up 4.4 percent, and total town assessments rose nearly 7 percent.

Spiegel said the budget spending increases are mainly due to 5-percent raises for the Highway Department, a 12-percent increase in health-care costs and increased fuel expenses.

No raises were received -- or asked for -- by supervisors or Town Council members, he added.

Heat and oil costs are increasing about $3,500 due to the rising price of fuel oil and gas, the supervisor said.

He said they looked at the health-insurance plan, which they initially expected to go up about 12 percent, and made a few minor adjustments.

"We tweaked it a little bit and were actually able to save a little money that way."

NEW DISTRICT

New to next year's budget is the Dodge Library Special District, which will raise taxes $19,182 overall in that West Chazy area.

There was no increase in the Chazy Fire District, and the West Chazy Fire District increased at a flat rate of 9 percent.

Spiegel said lights, water and sewer rates will remain constant.

Money is also being added to the Capital Reserve Fund, which will increase by $10,000 for 2008.

"Each year, we put money into reserve funds because we want to renovate or build a new town hall," Spiegel said.

The town has budgeted $1,000 to help the Senior Citizens Club. Organizers are planning new trips for the group, Spiegel said, and are hoping to entice more seniors into participating.

Money is also being set aside so the town can purchase more Christmas decorations. Spiegel said they received permission from Chazy-Westport and New York State Electric & Gas to light up 12 more poles for the holidays next year.

"The response to them has been phenomenal."

HIGHWAY COSTS

Highway construction and repair is going up $10,000, which will allow the Highway Department to buy more tar because of increased prices, Chazy Superintendent of Highways Richard Lewis said.

The snow-removal contract hasn't gone up because one position was cut, Lewis said.

"We didn't replace one of the retirees because I'm a working highway superintendent."

He said he didn't take the position away completely, however, "in case I need part-time help during the winter."

Spiegel and Lewis both said the addition of the wood-burning furnace to the 7,000-square-foot highway building has helped cut costs tremendously.

"The furnace will pay for itself in two years," Lewis said. "This is going to be a huge savings."

HIGHER REVENUE

The town's revenues are expected to increase by 11 percent, the supervisor said.

"This is mainly due to sales-tax revenue and other revenue."

He said court fees have been a strong source of income for the town.

Spiegel said no comments were made from the public during the hearing at the Town Hall.

"It's nice when you can get your tax rates to decrease," Spiegel said. "The town's in good shape."

rosborne@pressrepublican.com

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