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Warrensburg officials trimming tentative town tax hike

WARRENSBURG - The Warrensburg town board is now reviewing a tentative 2010 budget that calls for no increase in general fund appropriations and a 3 percent increase in the town's highway budget.

If this tentative budget were accepted without revision - which is unlikely - the town property tax rate would increase from $3.40 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation in 2009 to $3.44 per thousand, a 1.2 percent increase.

The tentative budget calls for spending $2.7 million, offset by $1.3 million in revenues,\\ and $254,101 in unexpended balance, leaving $1.13 million to be raised by taxes.

The tentative budget, subject to changes, was reviewed at a special town board meeting held Monday afternoon. The town board is set to reconvene at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 19 to continue drafting the spending plan. Formulation of a preliminary budget, which will then go to public hearing, must occur by by Nov. 5 under state law, which calls for a final budget to be approved by Dec. 15, officials said.

The main factor in the highway department budget increase, Town Supervisor Geraghty said, is a 3.5 percent increase in wages of eight highway department employees, mandated by a union contract signed last year. The average annual earnings of a highway employee is $42,375, he said.

A variety of expense reductions were already made to the budget, town board members said, to offset a 40 percent increase this year in pension contributions for town employees - a contribution that's mandated by the state.

Town board seeks further spending cuts

At Monday's meeting, several board members made suggestions for more budget cuts.

Geraghty suggested the board should consider reducing the cost of town employees' health care benefits by increasing their co-pay for medical visits from $25 to $35.

This increase would save a full 4 percent of the projected annual $458,000 cost of the employees' health care benefits, or about $18,000, he said.

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