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Manlius town board adopts 2014 budget

Tax rate to increase less than two percent

— After making minimal changes to its preliminary budget, the Manlius town board adopted a $13 million budget for 2014 at its Nov. 20 meeting. The budget is up 1.9 percent from last year.

“It’s unheard of. Especially because we gave personnel increases of about two percent,” said Councilor Nick Marzola. “And we have no real control over retirement and health insurance - this [number] is very impressive.”

The board members and judges, who are part- time elected officials, did not receive raises this year. The personnel increases were all for police and highway employees, whose contracts were finalized since the board proposed its preliminary budget, and total $123,000. Full-time town hall employees also saw a pay raise this year.

Retirement costs were raised by $31,000 by New York state, which was much less than the $239,000 increase the board saw last year, but despite the smaller increase, Marzola said it was still a big issue.

“Retirement represents a little over nine percent of our total expenses,” he said. “It’s a mandate and we as an individual organization have no control over it.”

Healthcare costs went up $97,000, or 7.4 percent from 2013, and Marzola said the taxpayers can look to Obamacare as a driving force behind the increase.

“I’m going to say at least three percent of our 7.4 percent increase is entirely due to fees and assessments that are being changed for Obamacare. So theoretically, that number would have been lower,” he said.

The town is using $385,000 from the fund balance this year, as compared to $600,000 in 2013. And the tax rate is up seven cents from last year - a 1.43 percent increase from last year, or $4.84 per $1,000 of assessed home value, up from $4.77 in 2013.

But that’s not to be confused with the town’s tax levy increase of 1.45 percent – which is well below the tax levy cap of 1.66 percent. New York state set the rate at two percent for the last few years, but due to the rate of inflation, it was lowered to 1.66 percent for 2014.

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