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Cicero: Tax increase remains at 14.5 percent

— While they couldn’t come to a consensus on budget changes before the Nov. 10 budget hearing, the Cicero Town Board did agree on at least one thing – they need to make some tough decisions.

With a $10.6 million preliminary budget, residents are currently looking at a 14.5 percent tax increase, representing an additional $44 per $100,000 in assessed valuation.

Supervisor Judy Boyke stated that, while the preliminary budget includes an increase of 6.09 percent in total expenses, the town is seeing a decrease of 5.55 percent in overall revenues.

Some contributing expenses include a 4.5 salary increase to all union and non-union employees; a 3 percent salary increase for the highway department; a 2 percent step increase for the police department; and an increase of the highway paving capital project to $1 million, among other expenses throughout the departments.

Boyke also stated that more than $800,000 is being taken from the reserves and highway funds to balance out the budget.

“These monies taken from our savings account will be needed,” she said.

While several suggestions were presented at a Sept. 28 budget workshop to reduce approximately $660,000 from the budget in order to reach the state’s 2 percent tax cap, board members couldn’t reach an agreement. The most costly suggestions, which were presented by Boyke, included reductions in the police department, highway department, and parks and recreation.

Speaking on behalf of parks and recreation during Thursday’s budget hearing, Commission Chairperson Lori Lake-Toms reminded the board of all the services the department offers to the citizens.

“Some of our biggest assets to this community are the fact that we do have a teen center, a senior center, and a free public beach with swimming available to our residents,” she said. “I would ask that you take in consideration how much these services are used by all of the members of our town before any budgets are being cut.”

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