Nov 15, 2011 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
Spafford town residents will see no tax rate increase and a three-cent overall tax decrease in 2012, according to the final town budget, which the Spafford Town Board unanimously approved at its Nov. 10 meeting.
“This year we held the line,” said Spafford Town Supervisor Webb Stevens. “We maintained the flat rate; there was no increase.”
The total town tax rate for 2012, which includes the general and highway funds but not the Spafford fire district fund, will be $2.43 per $1,000 assessed value. The 2011 town tax rate was $2.42 per $1,000 assessed value.
The 2012 fire district tax rate will be $0.95 per $1,000 assessed value, down four cents from $0.99 in 2011.
The overall Spafford tax rate, which is the combination of the town and fire district rates, for 2012 will be $3.38 per $1,000 assessed value, down three cents from $3.41 per $1,000 assessed value in 2011.
The major change in the 2012 budget from the previous year was an $82,000 increase in total highway fund appropriations. This included machinery, snow removal and employee benefit costs. More specifically, costs for fuel, blacktop, salt, sand, equipment and machinery and equipment repairs have increased significantly since 2011, Stevens said.
Some of the other specific changes in the budget from 2011:
• $20,000 increase in employee benefit expenses, including state retirement, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance;
• $6,000 increase in the buildings accounts for equipment and capital improvements;
• $1,000 increase in garbage removal fees;
• $395 reduction in state aid;
• $5,000 reduction in the water district appropriation.
The 2012 budget also includes increases totaling approximately $5,000 in town personnel salaries, ranging from $40 increase for the town custodian to a $3,000 increase in the highway department payroll. The increases were to keep up with inflation and “just to help keep good people,” Stevens said.
Stevens, as town supervisor, received a $300 increase, but half of that was a reimbursement for two consecutive years of unauthorized pay cuts due to clerical errors in previous budgets.
The 2012 budget was the first time in three years that the Spafford Town Board was unable to lower taxes, which they did in 2010 and 2011.
Overall, the town of Spafford is “in the black” financially, Stevens said. “We’re in good shape and don’t have any outstanding notes or anything.”
Copies of the Spafford town budget are available to members of the public at the Spafford Town Hall.
Also at the meeting:
—Chris Fesko, who was elected to a two-year term as town councilor on Nov. 8, officially took her seat on the board. Fesko defeated Republican Joyce Larrison in a special election to fill the unexpired term of her late husband, Rick Fesko, who died tragically in May.
Chris Fesko was officially sworn in as a town councilor at noon on Nov. 10 and appointed unanimously by the board to take her seat at the meeting that night.
“We welcome Mrs. Fesko, and I’m sure you’ll be a good addition to the town board,” Stevens said.
—The town board accepted a $295,000 contractor bid for the Spafford Landing Project, a project to repair a culvert on Glen Haven Road at the south end of Skaneateles Lake.
The lone bid received by the board was about $10,000 more than was already appropriated for the project. The board therefore added the $10,000 difference to the 2012 budget in order to approve the bid.
“This was something that needed to be done for the safety of the people down there because of serious issues with the culvert, which is currently coned off,” Stevens said.
The project went out for public bid in October with a Nov. 9 deadline. The repairs are scheduled to begin as soon as the appropriate paperwork is filed, and is expected to be completed by Dec. 23, 2011.
—Anita Williams and Sandra Weigel, both members of the Citizens to Protect Spafford Watersheds, spoke to the board about the need to enact a law to ban heavy industrial activity in Spafford as a way to prevent gas companies from hydrofracking within the town limits. More than 20 local residents attended the meeting, which, at times during the hydrofracking portion, became loud and heated.
Spafford currently is under a six-month moratorium against hydrofracking, which the town board approved this past September, in order for the board to investigate the issue further before taking final actions.
Stevens said he and other members of the town board are scheduled to visit Dimock, Pa., soon to see first-hand the hydrofracking down there, meet with people both for and against the practice and bring information back to Spafford. Board members also will be attending some upcoming seminars about hydrofracking as well.
“We are working on this but don’t want to jump into it too quickly and do something that would be detrimental to the community,” Stevens said.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.