Benson tax levy exceeds cap

By CRISTINE MEIXNER

Editor

BENSON -- The tax levy here will go up by $14,494 or 3.8 percent for 2014, even though the new budget cuts appropriations and predicts an increase in revenues.

That's because the Benson Town Board did not apply any unexpended balance to reduce the tax levy. The 2013 budget used $40,357 in fund balance to reduce the amount to be raised by taxes. This year there will be less fund balance than expected, and it will be retained in case of unexpected expenses.

The board expected to exceed the state-mandated cap of 1.66 percent on any tax levy increase and adopted a local law to override the limit.

It cites the cost of state mandates, a health insurance premium increase of 15 percent (up $4,698); and cost of living adjustments as reasons why the tax levy increase exceeds the cap.

Hourly highway workers will receive a nine-cent per hour step increase and a 1.5 percent COLA for 2014.

Also, the new position of "financial bookkeeper" will start Jan. 1, relieving the supervisor of that duty. The budget line under "Supervisor, Contractual Expense" has gone up by $3,665 to fund the position.

One cost-saving move is a $1,000 decrease in the E911 contract, down 50 percent. Another is a new communications package from Frontier, which will save the town $768 annually.

No members of the public commented during the Nov. 6 public hearings on the local law allowing the board to override the tax levy increase limit and the preliminary budget. The budget was adopted Nov. 13.

OTHER BUSINESS

-- The town has received four bids from vendors interested in selling it a new truck.

-- The dry hydrant project has been postponed until spring.

-- The board has designated Town Hall on County Route 6 as the offices of the town clerk and the town supervisor, effective Jan. 1, 2014.

On or before that date all town records, books and papers and all vital statistics records shall be placed in Town Hall and in the custody of the town clerk as records management officer.

-- Superintendent of Highways Cecil Blowers has been asked to conduct a census of dogs in the town.

-- Back-up alarms are being installed on highway equipment.

-- Northville Volunteer Fire Department responded to nine calls in Benson during 2012.

Editor's Note: This article is based on minutes of recent Benson Town Board meetings and the 2014 budget as provided by Town Clerk Jeanne Cox.