DeWitt adopts 2014 budget, tax rate to increase by 12 cents

— After a public hearing and a brief discussion, the DeWitt town board voted to adopt a $27 million budget at its Oct. 28 meeting. Taxpayers can expect to pay 12 cents more this coming year, as the tax rate will be $4.65 per $1,000 of assessed home value.

Spending for all but three departments and districts will go up this coming year. The biggest change is an added $200,000 into the part town fund, and a lot of that money will be spent on the police department, said Bookkeeper to the Supervisor John Curulla.

“The board voted to increase the number of officers from 36 to 38, and salaries will be around $57,000 for each, and that’s not including retirement and healthcare,” Curulla said. “We’re also going to have five officers eligible for retirement this year, and when they retire, we have to put aside around $20,000 each for vacation, sick and personal leave. So the retiring police alone cost us about $100,000.”

Spending also went up for the sewer and water districts. Curulla said the town has purchased bonds in the past to put in new sewer and water lines. But if the town were to go out for a bond now, interest rates would be close to four percent. The town is spending down its surplus funds, it earns a quarter per cent on these funds, and is trying to allocate enough money to maintain the sewers and water lines in the budget, as opposed to purchasing a bond.

Curulla said that the preliminary budget, which was presented at the Oct. 28 public hearing, ended up being almost identical to the budget that the board adopted that evening. The only change came after councilor Schultz requested that the two judges’ salaries be raised by two per cent to follow suit with the town board members, whose salaries will increase from $7.25 an hour to $8 an hour.

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