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Salina: Falling court revenues hurt 2012 budget

— By Sarah Hall

Declining court revenues kept the town of Salina from easily accomplishing a flat tax rate in 2012, but that doesn’t mean the town board will stop trying.

At the public hearing for the 2012 budget Monday, Oct. 24, Salina Supervisor Mark Nicotra said that projected revenues from the town court next year were expected to fall short by about $100,000.

“That’s significant,” Nicotra said. “If they’d stayed the same, it would be no issue to get it to a flat tax rate. Due to the economy, that revenue has dropped off.”

In Nicotra’s preliminary budget, presented to the board Oct. 5, taxpayers in the town faced a $4.56 a year tax increase on a $100,000 home, a 1.5 percent increase over last year. In the village, homeowners in a $100,000 home faced a $4.68 increase. The original $9,418,326 budget calls for a continued hiring freeze on any new employees, uses a portion of the town’s fund balance to offset spending and includes a new and more favorable garbage contract that generated savings to the town over the previous contract.

“The garbage contract is a big deal,” Nicotra said. “That’s a huge savings over the previous five-year contract.”

Since the Oct. 5 meeting, the initial budget has been trimmed down somewhat. The parks and recreation director has agreed to use funds leftover in his 2011 budget to purchase equipment he had requested for next year, thus saving money from the 2012 budget. Three employees will retire from the highway department at the end of this year and the board has agreed to leave two of those positions empty. Finally, the town has agreed to close the town pools at 6 p.m. this summer instead of 8 p.m., generating a savings of about $26,000; Nicotra said the pools are hardly used those last two hours of the evening, so it will not present a hardship to town residents.

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