The town board made other cuts Monday totalling $38,572 to a tentative budget that called for $1.13 million to be raised by taxes. The new cuts are expected to slash or eliminate a 4-cent increase in the $3.40 per thousand of assessed valuation charged in 2009.
The 2010 budget calls for a slight decrease in general fund appropriations and a 3 percent increase in the town's highway budget, primarily due to a 3.5 percent increase to eight town highway workers' pay, boosted health insurance costs, and increased payments into the state-run workers' retirement system. The workers' pay increase, mandated by a union contract signed last year, brings their average pay up to $42,375.
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 projected 40 percent increase this year in pension contributions for the employees at a rate mandated by the state, was reduced to about 30 percent because of a new forecast released this week by state officials.
The board also eliminated the $3,500 funding for the town's summer concert series, at the suggestion of councilman Austin Markey. He said the expense was too high, considering that only 20 people or so on the average attended the concerts.
The board abolished the funding, and decided to advertise weekly "open mike" events and see if talented singers and musicians signed up to perform for free.
Town Board members John Alexander and Joe Barlow, however, defended the concerts.