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Town's proposed tax rate to increase from last year

Final budget to be approved Nov. 18

As the new fiscal year begins, the Manlius Town Board prepares to vote on the proposed 2010 town budget.

"This year's budget has been especially difficult because of all the state mandates we have to follow that regulate funding," said Nick Marzola, town councilor and chair of the town's finance and budget committee. "It's as if we have our hands tied and are being told what we can and cannot do, especially when we have no control over health insurance and retirement benefit costs."

However, according to Marzola, there have been no significant changes to the budget since last year.

Some of this year's budget highlights include no increase in the home value assessment, and a drastic cut-back of non-tax revenue that comes mostly from the state. This is usually collected in the form of mortgage tax money, funds for road repair, and percentage from speeding tickets in the town, to name a few. Compared to last year, non-tax revenue is down $80,000 and down $375,000 from 2008.

While preparing the budget, issues the town board faced were how to maintain the state-required 10-percent fund balance, or unspent money left over in an organization's funding at the end of the fiscal year. Additionally, how to prepare for the impending increase in retirement costs that will come in 2011.This increase was caused by the recent stock market crash, where people's pensions were wiped out and now need to be paid for in some way, Marzola explained. Possible solutions include combining services with another municipality to save money and deferring infrastructure projects and the purchases of needed equipment for a few years.

And while nothing has been finalized, Marzola said the tax rate would most likely see a three to four percent increase from last year's budget.

"We have done everything to try and keep the tax rate down. I'm a resident, I pay taxes, I know how it is, but it makes it difficult when we have to follow all these state mandates."

The final budget vote will be held during the town board meeting on Nov. 18.

Caitlin Donnelly is a Syracuse University intern majoring in journalism.

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