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Johnsburg faces 8.38 percent town tax increase

JOHNSBURG Property owners in the town of Johnsburg can expect to pay an additional 8.38 percent in their town property taxes in 2008, town leaders said during a public hearing last Thursday. The rate of increase was approximately what the town board was proposing heading into the public hearing. The 2008 budget incorporates what town officials described as a modest amount of borrowing -- $120,000 -- a sum that was characterized as a bridge loan to get the town from the end of the year until property taxes began to come in during February. The town will repay the loan quickly, thereby continuing its policy of not carrying any long-term debt. Health insurance turned out to be the most discussed item during the public hearing, in particular, the health insurance provided by the town to the towns part-time town board members. Nessle urged town board members to give up their town subsidized health insurance if they wanted to lower the tax rate. Town Board members pay a portion of the health insurance premium and do so at the same rate as the towns full-time employees. Town Supervisor-elect Sterling Goodspeed told Nessle that the town had looked into what other similar sized towns do to compensate their part-time elected officials. Goodspeed said that one of two scenarios take place. Towns either provide health insurance at a subsidized rate or they pay their elected officials a higher salary. Johnsburg, Goodspeed said,is right in the middle of the pack when compared to the amount other towns contribute to benefits for elected officials. Board member Eugene Arsenault defended the health insurance benefit. I dont feel its out of line for the time we put in, Arsenault said. But Nessle countered that other people in the town volunteer a great deal of time on behalf of the town and those individuals arent compensated at all. Take the planning board for example, Nessle said. The public hearing on the proposed 2008 budget will remain open until Nov. 20 when, barring any adjustments, it will become the town budget by town law, Town Supervisor Bill Thomas. Those wishing to comment on the budget may do so in writing and direct their comments to Supervisor Thomas at the Town Hall.

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