Van Buren cuts tax rate

Van Buren officials have proposed a 7.8 percent decrease in town taxes.

The 2011 proposed budget includes: a 2.6 percent decrease in the tax rate for all Van Buren residents; a 10.4 percent tax rate decrease for Van Buren residents outside the village of Baldwinsville limits; and a 10.5 percent tax rate decrease in the highway fund. Taxes on a $100,000 house within the village would be $154.22 (down $4.12) and $431.94 (down $36.69) on a $100,000 house outside the village.

Town officials had to make cuts in several different areas in order to keep tax rates low.

"Due to the economy and lack of significant building, the codes office clerk position has been scaled back to part-time," said Supervisor Claude Sykes, adding, "It is never pleasant to reduce job position hours and displace workers."

With the exception of a replacement vehicle for the codes department, which is covered by a reserve fund, there are also no new equipment purchases in the proposed budget.

In addition to contractual salary increases and a rise in utility costs, major factors affecting this year's budget included a 55-percent increase in retirement costs, as well as an increase in insurance costs ranging from 8 to 36 percent, depending on the carrier and coverage.

Despite these increases in costs, department heads and cuts made in previous years helped cut overall expenses.

"[Department heads] were asked to submit responsible budgets with no new equipment and were asked to hold the line as best they could," Sykes said. "Also, many of the changes we have implemented for three years now are beginning to bear the savings and are reflected with this year's 7-percent rate reduction."

The town will hold a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. this evening at the Van Buren Town Hall, corner of Ellsworth and Van Buren roads. The town comptroller will give a budget presentation, after which, residents will be able to comment on the proposed budget.

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