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Nelson town tax rate to drop 5 percent in 2014

— The Nelson Town Board last week unanimously approved the final 2014 town budget, and although the budget did exceed the state tax levy cap by more than $9,000, it also came in with a 5 percent reduction in the town tax rate.

“This is good for all town taxpayers,” said Supervisor Roger Bradstreet at the Nov. 20 town board meeting. “If we can save money, that’s what we do.”

The board held its public hearing on the preliminary town budget on Nov. 7, at which time it also voted unanimously to override the state tax levy cap. Such an override is a common practice among state municipalities and is recommended by the state, the idea being that it is better to have an override authorization in place and not use it, than need to override and not have authorized the action.

The tax cap law requires that local governments raise taxes no more than 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. Municipalities may, however, raise or lower taxes according to their particular needs if approved by 60 percent of the town board.

Since the Nov. 7 preliminary budget meeting, there were some changes to the budget, which Bradstreet said included:

—A small salary for the chairmen of the town planning board ($1,200) and zoning board of appeals ($900) because of the amount of their workload.

—A higher-than-expected amount of Madison County sales tax revenue to the town for 2013 of about $368,987 (an increase of $5,000), of which two-thirds was added to the highway department fund and one-third was added to the general fund.

—A reduction in the amount needed to be raised by taxes for the Erieville water district.

—The addition of $2,000 into the budget to purchase new computer software for water district billing.

With those changes added in, the final town budget was proposed at $1,313,298 with $575,938 to be raised by tax. This exceeded the state tax levy cap by $9,238, or 1.63 percent.

The final town tax rate was projected to be $2.24 per $1,000 of assessed value, which is 12 cents lower than the 2013 tax rate of $2.36 per $1,000 of assessed value — an overall 5 percent reduction in the tax rate.

The board unanimously voted to approve the final budget. Copies of the budget are available to the public at the Nelson town offices and will be available on the town website at townofnelson-ny.com/blog.

Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at editor@cazenoviarepublican.com.

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