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Thurman board proposes tax hike

In Oct. 2011, Thurman Town Board members including Becky Hitchcock (center) work on drafting the 2012 town budget after a year of unprecedented financial pressures. Hitchcock, who died May 25, has been credited with bringing a moderate approach and cohesive influence to town politics during challenging times. Hitchcock is flanked by board members Leon Galusha (left) and Al Vasak (right).

In Oct. 2011, Thurman Town Board members including Becky Hitchcock (center) work on drafting the 2012 town budget after a year of unprecedented financial pressures. Hitchcock, who died May 25, has been credited with bringing a moderate approach and cohesive influence to town politics during challenging times. Hitchcock is flanked by board members Leon Galusha (left) and Al Vasak (right). Photo by Thom Randall.

— The board discussed potential cuts to the local Meals on Wheels and senior bus transportation programs, but didn’t axe them.

The $1.43 million tentative budget calls for about $610,000 to be raised by taxes, and an estimated tax rate of about $3.84 per thousand of assessed valuation, up from about $3.32 per thousand in 2011.

In presenting the budget, Wood noted that the town is faced with a 31 percent increase in employees’ retirement costs, and a 20 percent increase in health care premiums.

Also, the town has suffered an estimated $7 million in damages from the Memorial Day weekend flash floods that that tore out bridges and culverts, ripped up roadways, and turned many of them into raging rivers. Most all the town’s roads were severely damaged in the flooding.

Just months later, the town endured an additional $1 million in damages due to Tropical Storm Irene.

The town has been lobbying for federal disaster aid compensation for the May washouts, but to date has not received financial help. A portion of the damages due to Irene, however, may be compensated.

In the meantime, many of the roadways have only had temporary repairs, due to lack of available funds.

The 2012 budget calls for no increase in allocation for highway appropriations.

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