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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 19, 2009

Knox board unanimously approves $2.12 million budget, taxes will go up by 2 cents

By Zach Simeone

KNOX — On the day after elections, the town board unanimously approved its tentative $2.12 million budget for 2010, up from this year’s $2.02 million spending plan.

The tax rate will increase by about two cents, to $1.80 per $1,000 of assessed value, and the town will raise $508,274 by taxes next year, up from this year’s levy of $498,827. The town is dipping into its $857,264 rainy-day fund to cover $714,899 of the budget, leaving a balance of $143,365.

“Probably the biggest challenge is dealing with the receding sales-tax revenues and mortgage-tax revenues,” Supervisor Michael Hammond told The Enterprise. “Both of those have been declining as 2009 progresses; as we close out the year here, hopefully we’ll see a turnaround.”

General fund appropriations are up from $791,387 to $813,093 next year. General government support will total $245,463, up from $237,463 this year.

“There were no salary adjustments in this budget also other than the negotiated highway contracts,” said Hammond.

Highway fund appropriations are up from $980,600 to $1,035,600.

“I think just dealing with the increased cost of doing business is the basic challenge,” Hammond said of the increase.

The total cost of permanent improvements in the highway budget is up to $210,000 — a $35,000 jump. Asked about the increase, Highway Superintendent Gary Salisbury, who was re-elected earlier this month to serve his fourth two-year term, emphasized the importance of maintaining the foundations of town roads.

“Because of the price of asphalt and oil, we’ve really been concentrating on building the bases of our roads up,” said Salisbury, “as well as some guardrail work, culvert pipes, and drainage. But, our main issue now is to get a good base under our roads so we can pave them or chip seal them, and we want to make sure that they’re in good shape to do that.”

Employee benefits for highway department workers are expected to cost $60,000 more next year.

“The employee benefits many times are directly related to the union contract salary adjustment, and such things as Social Security, and, of course, health care,” said Hammond. Health insurance for highway workers is a “major payment” the town has to make, but the town’s other officers, full-time or part-time, are not covered, he said.

The town is expecting about $20,000 less in state aid for the general fund next year, and $13,000 less for the highway fund.

“Those are just projections; I couldn’t give a specific reason right now,” said Hammond. “We try to budget on the conservative side…If things turn around, and the state has a better hold on things, I think we’ll be in a better position.”

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