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Monforte: Tentative town budget includes ‘significant’ tax increase

— The tentative Cazenovia town budget was officially submitted this past Monday, Sept. 30, to the town clerk, and town residents may not be happy with its contents.

“We are looking at a substantial increase in taxes” ranging from 15 to 30 percent for the 2014 fiscal year, said town Supervisor Ralph Monforte, who is also town budget officer.

The budget submission on Sept. 30 occurred after press time.

Monforte said one reason for the tax increase is that the town has been using its reserve funds for the past three years — at $137,000 per year — to fund chemical treatment of the lake to fight invasive species. This year, he said, the Cazenovia Lake Association has asked the town to allocate up to $400,000 for lake treatments.

Because of these large expenses, and the fact that the treatments, according to Monforte, “obviously … are not working,” Monforte has cut lake chemical treatments from this year’s budget completely, he said.

“There’s just no more money left,” he said. “We’ve used so much [reserve funds] we just can’t commit to it further.”

Even with the lake treatment funds cut, the budget still will increase about 15 percent from last year, Monforte said. If the town funds the lake treatment, that tax increase could go as high as 30 percent, he said.

In order to increase taxes above the state-mandated Real Property Tax Levy Limit, which is set at 2 percent, the town board must approve a local law allowing it to do so. The board has scheduled a public hearing on the tax cap local law for Monday, Oct. 7, as part of its regular monthly meeting. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. at the town office at 7 Albany St.

Any town resident may view or receive a copy of the town’s preliminary 2014 budget at the town office or by contacting Town Clerk Linda Mather at 655-9213 or matherllc@live.com.

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

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