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Lewisboro Town Board OKs Budget With 1.8% Tax Hike

LEWISBORO, N.Y. – The Lewisboro Town Board adopted its 2012 budget this week, which will call for a tax rate increase of just under 1.8 percent.

The $9.8 million spending package called for a total tax levy of $5.2 million, a slight drop of .05 percent compared to last year. The amount corresponded with what was needed to be raised by taxes.

Supervisor Charles Duffy said the biggest challenge was dealing with revenues lost through decreased property valuations. In 2011, the total assessment value was approximately $318 million. For the 2012 budget, the amount dropped to just over $312 million.

“The assessment value is a smaller pool now, but I wasn’t going to ask the taxpayers for more money,” he said. “We had to find a way to hold down the tax levy.”

Duffy and the board did that by cutting. He said the initial budget requests from department heads would have resulted in a 23 percent tax hike if they’d all been accepted. So, for his tentative budget, Duffy implemented some $833,000 in spending cuts, which would have decreased the tax levy by .76 percent and resulted in a 1 percent tax increase.

The town board later added back $72,000 to the budget, including restoring a full-time position to the highway department. That budget would have called for a 1.87 percent tax increase and was introduced at a public hearing on Dec. 5. However, several residents in attendance at the hearing complained they hadn’t had enough time to study the preliminary budget so the board opted to continue to hone the spending plan and keep the public hearing open for another week.

The board was then able to find another $5,400 in cuts, reducing the proposed tax increase from 1.87 percent to 1.79 percent and the budget was finally adopted.

Duffy cited the cooperation of the Maintenance Association for being flexible with the terms of its contract as one reason the board was able to keep the tax rate increase under control.

“They deferred raises by two years in 2010 and 2011 and then spread an 8 percent increase over the next three years,” he said. “Without their cooperation, we could not have made the strides we have.”

The supervisor said his goal has always been to cut back on the town’s reliance on the fund balance.

“We are gradually weaning ourselves off the fund balance, debt, and sales of assets to support our operating expenses” he said.  “This budget gets us closer to that.”

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