ESSEX COUNTY - Several towns in Essex County have finalized their budgets for the 2010 fiscal year. Despite the rising cost of health insurance and mandated health insurance contributions, many residents will see only minimal increases, if any, in their property taxes.
Taxpayers in Chesterfield will have more of a burden to shoulder next year as the general fund tax levy will increase nearly 9.5 percent. The per-thousand tax rate is slated to increase only slightly, though.
A home assessed at $100,000 can expect to pay $239.23, up $1.99 from last year, a 0.84 percent increase.
"It's a very good budget as far as I'm concerned," said Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow.
Total expenditures in 2009 are estimated at $1,796,258, up from last year's figure of $1,635,445.
There is a 5.1 percent increase in the town's total taxable value for 2010, however, which Morrow said was due in part to continued development in the town and state-mandated increases for the assessment of waterfront property.
Tax rates are holding steady in the highway and lighting districts, where increases in taxable value are comparable to increases in the tax levy. There is an 18.5-cent per thousand increase in the fire district.
Morrow said increases were necessary because of rising expenses. Town personnel are all receiving a 4 percent increase in salary after receiving no raises last year, and health insurance costs have risen 21 percent. The town's contribution to state retirement funds have also increased by 12 percent.
Though the town will receive an additional $60,000 this year from county sales tax sharing, other revenue sources are seeing significant decreases. Estimates put sales of property at $26,000 less, fines and forfeited bail $15,000 less, and a $10,000 decrease on interest.
Fifteen thousand of the town's $200,000 in fund balance will be applied to the 2010 budget.
The 2010 budget for the town of Willsboro was passed Nov. 9 and rates will see another slight decrease to $2.53 per thousand.
Though the town's total appropriations will decrease by more than $53,000, the tax levy will nearly double from $772,773 in 2009 to $1,406,754.
The town made a strong effort to hold the line on budget items. Salaries and wages for all town employees will remain frozen for 2010.
The only notable increases in expenses came in the form of mandated state retirement, which increased 11.4 percent, and health insurance, which increased 2.14 percent.
"Increases are necessary because next year the loss of revenue will hit even harder and continual increases will be inevitable," said Willsboro Supervisor Lori Lincoln-Spooner.
The town's fund balance is $200,000 going into 2010, and it's expected to decrease by 20 percent as some of that money is applied to budget items.
Spooner said work will begin soon on the 2011 budget in an effort to be proactive.
"I believe a permanent change in spending patterns is required to ride the wave of incurred national debt over the next decade," she said.
The town of Jay adopted its budget Nov. 11, which included a 2.5 percent overall increase in the tax levy.
Most of that increase comes through the AuSable Forks Fire District and Ambulance District, which increased 27.5 percent and 9.25 percent, respectively.
The total assessed value in the town of Jay has also increased from $220,251,607 in 2009 to $247,900,823.
The tax levy for the general fund is down 7.5 percent to $576,168 in 2010. The highway fund levy is up 5 percent to $782,760.
The tax rate for the general fund will decrease from $2.83 per thousand to $2.32 per thousand. The rate will also drop from $3.37 per thousand in the highway fund to $3.16 per thousand.
"Overall the budget looks pretty good," said Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas. "We have tried very hard over the last six years to reduce costs, including lessening overtime when possible, and implementing energy awareness measures."
Within the budget, the town employees, elected and appointed, will receive a 2 percent raise. Significant increases include a mandatory 84 percent rise in state retirement contributions and a 16 percent rise in health insurance benefits.
"I credit the town board, superintendent of highways and DPW Director Chris Garrow, and especially my Budget Officer and Clerk, Susan Richards, for putting this fiscally responsible budget together," said Douglas, "as well as our department heads and employees for their input on possible cost-saving measures."
Check the Valley News next week for more summaries of town budgets.