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Towns try to weather economic storm

ESSEX COUNTY - Several towns in Essex County 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, if any, in their property taxes.

Chesterfield

Taxpayers in Chesterfield will have more of a burden to shoulder next year as the general fund tax levy will increase nearly 9.5 percent. The per-thousand tax rate is slated to increase only slightly, though.

A home assessed at $100,000 can expect to pay $239.23, up $1.99 from last year, a 0.84 percent increase.

"It's a very good budget as far as I'm concerned," said Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow.

Total expenditures in 2009 are estimated at $1,796,258, up from last year's figure of $1,635,445.

There is a 5.1 percent increase in the town's total taxable value for 2010, however, which Morrow said was due in part to continued development in the town and state-mandated increases for the assessment of waterfront property.

Tax rates are holding steady in the highway and lighting districts, where increases in taxable value are comparable to increases in the tax levy. There is an 18.5-cent per thousand increase in the fire district.

Morrow said increases were necessary because of rising expenses. Town personnel are all receiving a 4 percent increase in salary after receiving no raises last year, and health insurance costs have risen 21 percent. The town's contribution to state retirement funds have also increased by 12 percent.

Though the town will receive an additional $60,000 this year from county sales tax sharing, other revenue sources are seeing significant decreases. Estimates put sales of property at $26,000 less, fines and forfeited bail $15,000 less, and a $10,000 decrease on interest.

Fifteen thousand of the town's $200,000 in fund balance will be applied to the 2010 budget.

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