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Lysander: 3.2 percent increase in 2007 budget

The Lysander board approved the 2007 budget for the town at Thursday's board meeting following a public hearing.

The total budget for 2007 is $4,940,762, which is a 3.2 percent ($153,712) increase from last year's budget.

Tax rates for property owners town-wide decreased by 6.9 percent from $1.65 per $1,000 in 2006 to $1.54 per $1,000 in 2007. The tax rate for properties within the village decreased 5.2 percent from 52 cents per $1,000 in 2006 to 49 cents per $1,000 in 2007.

The towns taxable assessed value is $1,266,039,481, a 9.5 percent increase ($110,310,401) from last year.

The budget includes a 3.5 percent wage increase for most town employees, an item that Lysander resident Jim Stirushnik challenged. Councilor Art Levy said research found many of the towns in the Central New York area receive higher wages than Lysander employees.

Supervisor Barry Bullis added, "We have a good quality work force that we would like to maintain."

Other budget items include $107,000 for the construction of the $535,000 North Shore Trail project, a 2.8-mile pedestrian/bike trail along the Seneca River, the remainder of which is funded by a $428,000 grant, and $403,000 for road construction and drainage projects. Overall, the Highway fund is $123,862 less than the 2006 budget.

The budget also includes $120,840 for legal expenses, part of which is to retain expert counsel to defend the town in a lawsuit filed against it by Anheuser-Busch. The brewery is challenging this year's assessment assigned by Lysander. Officials said in usual circumstances, $20,000 would be the average budgeted legal expenses for the year.

Lysander resident Bill Palmer asked the board whether it would recoup the legal expenses if the town won the case against Anheuser-Busch and Bullis said no because the provision was not in the law for unsuccessful suits.

"Let's change the law," Palmer replied.

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