By JIMMY LAWTON
WADDINGTON – For the fourth straight year Waddington taxpayers will not see an increase in the town’s tax levy.
Town Supervisor Mark Scott said the proposed budget reduces the tax levy to $262,158, down $400 from the current budget. An additional $35,000 will be raised for fire protection. Scott said the tax rate was also reduced by about 1 cent per $1,000 of assessed property value to $1.96. This does not include a 44-cent per $1,000 tax rate for fire protection, which is also down by 1 cent from 45 cents per $1,000.
“While the reduction is not significant, it is the fourth straight year that the town has been able to keep the levy flat and the rate down—and that is significant,” he said in an emailed response.
Scott said holding down tax increases is challenging in the wake of rising pension labor and medical insurance costs.
He said the board faced an initial tax levy increase of over 20 percent when they began working on the budget.
“A significant portion of the increase in medical costs is due to the town’s commitment to continue paying for health coverage for the retiring highway superintendent and his dependent, as well as the new superintendent and any dependents,” he said.
In the preliminary 2014 budget that was adopted by the town council, Scott said the board used a balance of cuts, sales tax revenues and fund balance to eliminate the 20 percent increase.
“The good news for 2015 is that pension costs are not projected to increase and I am hopeful that the town will begin to receive revenues from economic development initiatives that should be worked on in earnest in 2014. In the future, increases can only be offset by creating sources of alternative revenue – and not increased tax base alone,” he said. “To put this into perspective, it would take over $26 million in additional tax base, or over 100 homes values at $250,000 each, to offset the 20 percent increase in the levy we were faced with for 2014. This level of construction is simply not realistic and likely not desirable for residents who like Waddington as a small town.”
Scott said he is pleased that the town was able to keep local property taxes among the lowest in the county.
“It is my goal to continue this trend in the future,” he said.
The town council meets Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Waddington Municipal Building, where members are expected to finalize the proposed budget.