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Moriah meets tax cap for 2013

Town budget adopted

The 2013 Moriah town budget holds the line on property taxes for most residents. It also meets the state’s 2 percent tax cap. So, Supervisor Tom Scozzafava is happy, right?

The 2013 Moriah town budget holds the line on property taxes for most residents. It also meets the state’s 2 percent tax cap. So, Supervisor Tom Scozzafava is happy, right?

— Employee costs — wages and benefits — comprise about 70 percent of the town budget.

In 2013 most employees will get 2 percent pay increases. Union workers, who were scheduled to get a 3 percent pay hike, have agreed to forego 1 percent to help the town budget. The town supervisor, town board member, chairman of the board of assessors and justices will have a pay freeze.

There are no personnel cuts in the 2013 spending plan.

“In the last nine years we’ve eliminated a police officer, two highway employees, two clerks in the town hall and cut back at the campsite,” Scozzafava said. “Where else can we go?

“You have to have segregation of duties,” he added. “You can’t have the same person writing the checks balancing the books. When it snows someone has to plow the roads. When a water main breaks someone has to fix it.”

Water and sewer rates in the 2013 budget remain the same — $420 for sewer and $290 for water.

The budget process and tax cap are frustrating, Scozzafava said.

“We’ve got a huge infrastructure in the community,” he said. “We have mile sand miles of road. We have four water districts. They all need work to be maintained properly, but we don’t have the money.”

The situation won’t likely improve, the supervisor said.

“The elephant in the room is the employee retirement system,” Scozzafava said. “You can’t blame the retirees, they earned their retirement, but the costs are going up and up. The other big problem is health insurance.”

Like 2013, Scozzafava expects retirement and health insurance costs to dominate allowable tax increases going forward.

“I can understand why people are frustrated, so am I,” the supervisor said. “We’re expected to provide services to people and we’re not doing it as well as we’d like because we’re limited by money.”

Scozzafava acknowledged the work on Becky Gilbo, senior account clerk and budget officer, on the 2013 spending plan.

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