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Essex County sows seeds of levy cap override

— Palmer said that the plan would call for a 10 percent increase to the levy in year two, eight percent in year three, five percent in year four and two percent in year five.

“It is just a matter of how you spread this increase out to the taxpayers, if you do it over three years or over five years,” Palmer said. “This will still be below the tax rate that was in place in 2004. We have still not exceeded that under the plan that was presented.”

Palmer also suggested to board members that any cuts made from the tentative plan needed to be ones that would last.

“If you are going to make an adjustment to the budget, then it should be a permanent adjustment,” Palmer said. “If you are going to take something out that is not permanent, then you are going to have issues in coming years.”

The 2014 tentative budget calls for $94,917,464 in spending, a .09 percent drop from $95,000,115 in 2013. Revenues are expected to increase from $71,689,099 in 2013 to $72,938,431, leaving an expected shortfall of $21,979,033.

Palmer said that the county would use $3,023,262 of appropriated fund balance to bring the levy number down to $18,955,771.

“Our next budget is almost the same as the budget that you had last year,” Palmer said. “The Horace Nye sale and sales tax increases are helping to hold down the budget numbers over the next few years.”

The board has until Dec. 20 to make final changes to the tentative spending plan.

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