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Towns make cuts to offset rising costs

Several towns in the area have finalized their budgets for the 2010 fiscal year. Despite the rising cost of health insurance and mandated health insurance contributions, many residents will see only minimal increases, in their property taxes.

AuSable

The town of AuSable in Clinton County estimates an eight percent loss of revenue for its 2010 budget, and its taxpayers are going to have to make up the difference.

"With the loss of our revenue, the increase to the taxpayers will be $39,240," said town supervisor Sandy Senecal.

Senecal said the decreased cash flow comes at the same time as a 50 percent increase in the mandated town contribution to the state retirement fund.

To minimize the impact, appropriations will increase by only $5,629, roughly a 0.25 percent increase for the general fund. No raises were given to town employees, with the exception of a three percent raise for town highway personnel.

"We looked at every appropriation and cut everything we could cut to maintain the services we provide," said Senecal.

Total assessed value in the town increased by $11.8 million, however, so the tax rate for the general fund will only increase by four cents to $2.15 per thousand.

The budget was passed following a public hearing on Nov. 18.

Elizabethtown

The town of Elizabethtown will also see an increase this year due to jumps in its retirement and health insurance costs. There, they increase 25 percent and 14.5 percent, respectively."Uncontrollable increases in retirement and health insurance costs challenge boards each year," said town supervisor Noel Merrihew. "These cost represent one third of our tax levy increase this year."

As a result, the town's tax levy will increase six percent to $872,632, and the tax rate will increase 20 cents to $5.66 per thousand.

The town approved a three percent increase for non-elected employees, which Merrihew will offset the increased amount those employees will have to contribute to their health insurance policy.

No increases will be seen in the town's utility districts, with the exception of a 15-cent increase for the sidewalk district to go towards the purchase of a new sidewalk plow.

"We have continued our funding levels for our support services such as the Emergency Squad, Library, Youth Commission, Animal Shelter and our Programs for the Aging," Merrihew added.

The budget was approved at the town's Nov. 17 regular board meeting.

Check the Valley News next week for more summaries of town budgets.

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