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Cicero board adopts a budget – at last

— After a three-hour special meeting Sunday, Nov. 20 that drew so many residents some were left standing outside, the Cicero Town Board approved an eleventh-hour compromise 2012 budget that calls for a 0.9 percent tax increase - $14 per $100,000 of assessed value. The budget had to be submitted to the state by 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

The budget was approved after a contentious meeting in which several members of the audience accused board members of behaving like “high school children” for failing to come to a better solution sooner and forcing the last-minute session, which often devolved into bickering and sniping between board members.

Supervisor Judy Boyke presented an amended proposal that cut the tax rate from 2.75 percent, which she had proposed Wednesday, Nov. 16, to 0.65 after taking more money from one of the town’s rarely-used fund balances, or $2.88 per $100,000 of assessed value. That brought the total Boyke wanted to take from the fund balance to $1,066,942. The budget also called for cuts from the highway, parks and recreation and police departments.

Councilor Jim Corl, meanwhile, had a different budget to present.

“Everybody should know that since Wednesday’s meeting, myself, Ms. [Jessica] Zambrano and Mr. [Vern] Conway have worked very diligently on a budget that’s reasonable for the long-term planning and goals for this town, that’s not just raiding a fund balance and applying it to reduce a tax rate,” Corl said. “We have a proposal that makes the tough decisions.”

Corl’s proposal called for the following:

A 2 percent increase in salary for the town’s 15 non-union employees (the budget Boyke presented Wednesday called for a 3 percent increase).

Elimination of a code enforcement officer position.

Elimination of a park laborer position.

Elimination of the director of planning and development.

Elimination of one highway employee salary (two retirements are proposed in the department).

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