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Schroon budget tops tax cap

Spending down, but taxes up in 2013

The 2013 town of Schroon budget exceeds the state’s 2 percent tax cap. Trustees voted to surpass the cap with little debate, Supervisor Mike Marnell said.

The 2013 town of Schroon budget exceeds the state’s 2 percent tax cap. Trustees voted to surpass the cap with little debate, Supervisor Mike Marnell said.

— The 2013 town of Schroon budget exceeds the state’s 2 percent tax cap.

Trustees voted to surpass the cap with little debate, Supervisor Mike Marnell said. State law allows a municipality to top the cap with a 60 percent vote of its board.

“We cut everything we felt we could,” Marnell said. “What good is a town if you don’t have the things that make a town what it is — snowplowing,sidewalks, the arts council, the historical society? They’re important parts of our town.”

The 2013 Schroon budget totals $4,285,537. That’s a $64,487 decrease — a 1.5 percent cut — from the present spending plan of $4,350,024.

The amount to be raised by taxes in 2013 is $2,357,034. That’s an increase of $172,960 — a 7.9 percent hike — from the 2012 tax levy of $2,184,074.

To meet the state’s 2 percent tax cap, Schroon’s town board could only raise taxes by $55,396. It would mean cutting another $121,637 from the budget.

Schroon trustees worked to keep spending down. The town will cut its contributions to the Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce, the Schroon Lake Arts Council and the Schroon-North Hudson Historical Society by 10 percent in 2013.

Labor Day fireworks and three seasonal positions at the town-owned golf course have been eliminated.

“We’re being as frugal as we can,” Marnell said. “There’s no spare money in this budget.”

The 2013 spending plan includes a 10.4 percent increase in the cost of employee health insurance.

“To stay within the tax cap we could only raise taxes $55,396,” Marnell said. “The health insurance increase alone took care of that.”

Schroon town employees will get a 30-cent an hour pay raise and elected officials will get 2 percent pay increases in 2013.

“Town employees haven’t had a raise in three years,” Marnell said. “It’s time they got one.”

Marnell pointed out he will get a $680 raise in 2013, which follows an $8,000 pay reduction in 2012.

The 2013 budget also includes $15,000 for tennis court repairs and $10,000 for downtown sidewalk maintenance.

Making the 2013 budget process difficult, Marnell said, was the lack of fund balance in town coffers. In 2012 the town used $250,000 in fund balance to get under the 2 percent tax cap.

“That money is gone,” the first-year supervisor said. “Unfortunately, we just don’t have any fund balance this year.”

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