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Spending up 2.1 percent in Van Buren

— Van Buren officials passed the 2012 budget in a 6 to 1 vote Tuesday, Nov. 1.

With an overall budget of $5,247,048, spending increased by 2.17 percent, or $113,716, over 2011, which saw a 7.7 percent decrease in taxes for residents living outside the village (2.1 percent decrease for those living inside the village).

After cutting taxes the past few years, “we ran out of things to do for cost cutting,” Supervisor Claude Sykes said.

While spending has increased, it is estimated Van Buren will see a 1.6 percent increase in non-property tax revenues ($19,179) including the mortgage tax, which comes from the refinancing and sale of homes, an industry that saw an increase this year due to record low interest rates. This increase will help offset the tax levy, the amount to be raised by property taxes. Residents within the village will see a tax rate of 1.6 percent, which equates to a $5.09 increase in taxes for a property assessed at $100,000; residents outside the village will see a tax rate of 4.45 percent, which equates to a $12.75 increase in taxes for a property assessed at $100,000.

Major factors affecting the 2012 budget included a 2 percent raise for most town employees (excluding elected officials), the creation of two new positions in the highway department (secretary and mechanic), needed equipment (new mower costing $9,710) and highway maintenance, specifically $210,000 to pave roads.

Councilor Harold Johnson voted against the budget noting he was opposed to the creation of the mechanic position in the town’s highway department. “There is no need for a mechanic,” he said. Sykes disagreed, noting the highway department needs more people to conduct regular business.

“We need people out in the field, too,” he said adding the department also needs a dedicated mechanic to maintain the town’s large fleet.

No public comments were made during the budget hearing.

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