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Manlius Town Board proposes $12.93 million spending plan

— The Manlius Town Board proposed a $12.93 million preliminary budget for 2013 that calls for a 2-percent tax rate increase at Wednesday night’s regular board meeting. The proposed budget for 2013 is up 4.74 percent from 2012.

Councilor Nick Marzola said the town was faced with rising New York State retirement costs, which increased $238,000, or 26 percent, from last year, as well as rising health insurance costs, up $121,000, or 10 percent, from 2012. The town took $955,000 from the unexpended fund balance in order to help breach the budget gap caused by rising costs amid a relatively flat tax base.

“The biggest mandate that we’re confronted with that we have no control over is retirement,” Marzola said. “Employees certainly deserve a retirement benefit. The concern with all municipalities is the cost of this retirement benefit.”

He said the town is putting about $1.16 million toward retirement, or 9 percent of its total budget, “and that’s a significant, significant number from an employee benefits perspective.”

He noted that the $238,000 increase in pension costs equates to about 1.9 percent of the town’s entire operating budget.

“The increase of one item is basically our 2-percent tax rate increase,” he said. “It’s a very difficult place to start from.”

The 2 percent tax rate increase does not refer to the property tax levy increase, which is limited to two percent — or the rate of inflation, whichever is less — for the second year by Gov. Cuomo’s property tax cap. Marzola said those numbers will be presented at the Nov. 14 town board meeting, when the board plans to vote on the budget.

The town board voted to override Cuomo’s tax cap at its Sept. 26 meeting, but Supervisor Ed Theobald said the board does not intend to exceed the 2 percent limit. He said overriding the tax cap was a precautionary measure to avoid being fined by the state, should a state audit later find something that would put the town over the limit.

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