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Warrensburg officials trimming tentative town tax hike

Councilman Austin Markey suggested that the town's summer concert series, a weekly tradition at the bandstand for decades, be discontinued or funding them should cease. He said that only 20 or so people attend the concerts weekly, and it seems like the same 20 individuals attend each time.

Eliminating funding for the concerts would save the town taxpayers $3,500. Markey suggested that instead of hiring bands, the town could promote weekly "open mike" nights.

Markey also suggested cutting the number of teenagers who were employed in the town's Youth Summer Recreation program. Personnel costs of the program total $17,000, he said.

Markey said that on some days, more teen staff members attended the program than participants.

Both Markey and Geraghty said they had reservations about cutting these payroll costs, because the Summer Recreation program provided a valuable first employment experience for local teenagers, and such job opportunities for youth were becoming scarce.

Markey also suggested cutting allocations for fuel expenses due to recent reductions in fuel prices.

Geraghty warned that the unexpended balance in the town's water district budget was being depleted with annual shortfalls in revenue.

He said that the town water fund has $286,000 in annual expenses, but brings in $190,000 from water rents.

He suggested that the board consider logging town property to raise cash to offset the shortfall, or sell some land.

If the town activates the water meters and starts billing according to use, townspeople would cut their usage dramatically, slashing the water district's operation and maintenance costs, he said. Studies have shown that municipalities converting to meters reduce water consumption by 35 percent, board members said.

Geraghty said water metering would mean increases for those who used very large quantities, and a reduction in costs for the remaining customers.

He said that rumors of metering tripling the water bills of local seniors was false, and that they'd continue to receive a substantial discount.

Board members said they'd be scrutinizing the budget, looking for opportunities to trim expenses.

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