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DeWitt tables budget vote, schedules special meeting for Nov. 19

— The DeWitt Town Board was not ready to vote on a $17.6 million spending plan with a slight tax rate increase for 2013 following a second budget hearing Monday night.

After discussing the proposed budget for about an hour — and finding many areas of potential savings — the board moved to delay the budget vote and hold it during a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19, at town hall. State law says towns must adopt their budgets by Friday, Nov. 16.

“I’m not gonna raise taxes just to throw it back in the unappropriated fund balance,” Councilor Brian Schultz said.

Multiple board members took issue with an 11.5-percent raise proposed for Bookkeeper to the Supervisor John Curulla, who was slated to earn $41,600 in 2013 compared to $37,310 in 2012. “That’s a heck of a raise,” Councilor Irene Scruton said.

Councilor Jack Dooling asked: “Why is the bookkeeping person getting an 11.5-percent raise?” The standard raise proposed for the town’s other employees for 2013 was 2.5 percent.

“My guess is that the 11.5 percent on line 10-1220-122, which is John, is an increase in hours that John gave himself,” Supervisor Ed Michalenko said. Curulla, who helped Comptroller Tim Redmond draft the budget, was not in attendance.

While some board members noted that the funds budgeted for a raise would not necessarily be spent, the board agreed that the raise should be reduced in the budget to match that of the town’s other employees.

“I think it’s good housekeeping,” Councilor Kerry Mannion said.

Schultz expressed concern over an $18,900 increase in the town hall office supplies line item, a 94 percent increase, as well as a $7,100 increase under the copy machine expense line, a 131-percent jump.

“[Those funds] were buried in other departments in previous budgets,” Michalenko explained.

Schultz then pointed to telephone expenses being at $27,000 for 2013, an increase of $18,000 — or 200 percent — from last year’s budget.

“There was a switch-over when Windstream took it over from the three other companies, there was a time lapse,” Comptroller Redmond said. “There was at least one month we paid extra.”

“We’re forecasting next year that telephone’s gonna go up $18,000 ... that’s a lot of money,” Schultz said.

The proposed tax rate is $4.53 per $1,000 assessed property value, which is up $.08 from 2012.

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