Van Buren: tax rate down, levy up

Van Buren officials approved the $4.18 million town budget for 2010 last Wednesday, which increases overall spending by 1.6 percent ($67,722) from the 2009 budget.

The tax levy (amount to be raised through property taxes) increased by 6.3 percent ($154, 230) to $2,592,537. The overall tax rate, however, decreased 1.7 percent from 4.766 in 2009 to 4.686 in 2010. This means a Van Buren home assessed at $100,000 would pay roughly $468 in annual taxes (not including special districts such as fire, drainage, sanitation, water and street lighting).

"I would like to thank the department heads for the cuts," Supervisor Claude Sykes said. "The board did make further cuts. I feel it is a good budget."

While payroll and benefits accounted for 49 percent of the budget with payroll increasing by 5.4 percent from 2009 and benefits increasing by 2.7 percent from last year, there was no increase for either town board members or the supervisor. The increase also included the creation of a new position -- an in-house town engineer, which Sykes said should save the town money. In 2009, the town spent $167,000 on engineering fees and it wasn't a really busy year either, Sykes said. By hiring an in-house engineer, the town will spend $106,000 in salary, benefits and creating the new office.

"It will be a dramatic savings," Sykes said adding that the town won't have to share the engineer with other clients as it did with the previous arrangement. "I think it will be a good program and help save us some money."

Other factors affecting the 2010 budget included a $74,092 decrease in non-tax revenues for 2010 compared to 2009, which include sales, franchise and mortgage taxes, building permits, licenses and other revenues generated through the town offices. Interest income alone is expected to decrease by roughly $40,000. Contractual (services such as snow removal, legal) and capital (acquisition of equipment, fixtures and infrastructure) spending also decreased.

Lysander 2010 budget

A public hearing regarding Lysander's 2010 budget was held last Thursday, however the board did not vote on the budget at that time. The $4.69 million proposed Lysander budget includes a $2.336 million tax levy, a .7974 general tax rate (an increase of .0873 from 2009) and a .09131 highway tax rate (a decrease of .0235 from 2009).

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