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Tue., Sep. 23
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Brasher residents looking at 8 percent tax increase

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BRASHER FALLS - One year after they saw a 6 percent decrease in their taxes, Brasher residents will see an increase of approximately 8 percent under Town Supervisor M. James Dawson’s budget proposal.

“Last year it dropped 6 percent. Basically it’s 2 percent more than it was initially two years ago,” Mr. Dawson told town board members Monday during a budget workshop.

“It’s not of lot of money, but we’re going the wrong way,” he said. “We had to do it because costs are going up.”

Mr. Dawson has penciled in appropriations of $525,155 in the general fund, along with $310,539 in estimated revenues and $50,000 in unexpended fund balance, leaving $164,616 to be raised by taxes in that area.

Under the highway budget, he has penciled in $830,100 of appropriations, with estimated revenues of $537,948 and $60,000 of unexpended fund balance, leaving $232,152 to be raised by taxes in that area.

“Appropriations in the highway fund are almost double the general fund,” Mr. Dawson said.

The total to be raised by taxes is $396,768, he said.

That translates to an increase in the tax rate of 42 cents over last year, bringing it to $4.75 per $1,000 of assessed value, according to Mr. Dawson.

“This is the toughest budget I’ve ever had to do,” he said. “I don’t see this as a budget that is in any way, shape or form extravagant. It’s skin and bones right now.”

There are still some question marks under some line items though, Mr. Dawson said.

“We haven’t settled our union contract yet. It’s going to be a tough year with them on negotiations,” he noted. “I’ve frozen all wages for elected and appointed officials.”

What’s also still up in the air is what the St. Lawrence County Legislature will do regarding tax distribution to town and villages, the town supervisor said.

Facing their own budget crisis, one of the possibilities on the table for county legislators to generate more revenue is for them to keep one third of town and village sales tax rather than passing it on to municipalities - a move strongly opposed by Brasher’s board in a resolution they forwarded to county officials last week.

That would mean a decrease of approximately $37,000 for the town, on top of their levy that sits at approximately $38,000, according to Mr. Dawson.

“If they take $37,000 we have to almost double our tax increase to stay level, close to 16 percent. I don’t want to do that,” he said.

Mr. Dawson said he based his budget on “46 years of past history,” but is in a quandary this year because of those budget uncertainties.

“Our budgets are pretty well firmed up based on 46 years of past history,” he said. “What do we do if they cut us 10 percent? It’s going to be a question all supervisors have to answer.”

The question will also have to be answered in Brasher.

“I’m not here to expound upon some magical formula I’ve suddenly derived because I don’t have one,” Mr. Dawson said. “I just wanted to get you in here to talk. I don’t have any magic answers. I think this budget is pretty well shaped up.”

Because Mr. Dawson’s proposed tax increase exceeds the 2 percent tax cap, he said they would need hold a public hearing to override it. A public hearing to discuss the budget is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at the municipal building. The budget is scheduled to be approved by Nov. 20.

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