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Lenox: No raises for officials

The public will have the opportunity to comment on the town of Lenox's tentative budget for 2009 during a hearing scheduled for Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.

Although changes are still to come before then, Lenox Supervisor Rocco DiVeronica said this was one of the better budgets he's work on.

"We worked really hard on this budget this year to keep our taxes stable," DiVeronica said.

As it looks right now the Lenox budget is just a little more than $1 million. Residents in the village of Canastota will pay $1.88 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Town residents will pay $1.35 per $1,000 of assessed value and the taxpayers in the village of Wampsville are looking at 21 cents per $1,000. The town and village are looking at just a few pennies difference from last year's budget. Wampsville paid nothing last year. The increase this year is due to flat sales tax revenue, according to DiVeronica.

"No elected officials are getting raises," DiVeronica said. "And that includes the highway superintendent, the clerk, the justices and all the board members."

Last year's appropriations were around $1.7 million. The 2009 appropriations are $1.6 million. Revenues are down about $60,000 but the biggest difference in this year's budget is the unexpended fund balance. Last year's unexpended fund balance was $212,000. This year it's only $122,500.

"Last year we put $160,000 in the unexpended fund balance to reduce the taxes," DiVeronica said. "We only put $40,000 in it this year. We need to stabilize the tax rate because I'm worried about the decrease in sales tax, mortgage tax and our CHIPS funding in 2010. We already took a hit on the sales tax. It's very flat. It was up $1,000 from last year but that's a low amount, and we don't get to collect all our tax revenues from gas sales."

The decision to cut one full-time highway employee also was made. DiVeronica attributes the elimination to the highway department's decision last year to discontinue its contract with the county. The town no longer plows any county roads.

"We won't replace him," DiVeronica said. "But we kept $10,000 from that salary in the budget because we may need a part-time person if there is a lot of plowing to be done this winter."

The town plans to purchase a new loader and has set aside $25,000 toward it.

Employee raises are still being negotiated, DiVeronica said.

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