By Erin Smith
Due to increased construction supply costs, the town of Van Buren is considering raising the amount of sales tax it will take from the county from $250,000 to $300,000.
Last year, the town board voted to take $250,000 of the 2007 county sales tax, a tax that is usually applied towards residents' county tax bill. Towns can opt to use their allotted portion of the tax to fund municipal projects, as Van Buren chose to do to help fund the Seneca Knolls development road and drainage reconstruction project, although Van Buren does not take all the money it is permitted to use.
According to Councilor Claude Sykes, asphalt prices have increased 46 percent this year and are expected to increase again next year. For this reason, the Van Buren Highway Committee suggested increasing the amount used from the county sales tax rather than borrowing from other portions of the town's annual budget.
"We (Van Buren Highway Committee) think it is prudent to do that," Sykes said. "Since we don't know where the bids are going to come in for the current year's drainage work, that would eliminate the need to do an inter-budget loan to tie us over."
Although this is only the second time the town has used the county sales tax money, Councilor Wendy Van Der Water expressed concern that the town would take increasingly more from the county sales tax putting a greater burden on town residents.
"That number was not presented to me before," Van Der Water said in regards to the proposed $50,000 increase. "I don't want to see this constantly increased. I am behind the project. I don't want our residents to have to keep looking for inflated taxes."
The Seneca Knolls project is a community development project partially funded by grants that began earlier this year. Since the ball has begun rolling, there is no backing out on funding the project despite inflated construction costs.