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Budget a big relief over last year's

The Town Board will present a proposed 2008 town budget during a public hearing today with only a slight increase in taxes -- a marked difference from this year's whopping hike.

The hearing is slated for 5:30 p.m. in Town Hall, 5316 Royalton Center Road, Middleport.

The proposed $5.1 million budget represents about a 2 percent increase over the town's current spending plan, Supervisor Calvin Rhoney said.

Under the proposed budget, the tax rate in the Village of Middleport would rise 2 cents, from $2.05 to $2.07 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, and the tax rate would increase 20 cents, from $3.47 to $3.67 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, for residents of the town living outside the village.

"We've had excellent cooperation among the Town Board, department heads and public, but what made it easier this year was that the budget was all computerized," Rhoney said. "Last year, we had to use photocopies and white-out."

The proposed 2 percent increase is in stark contrast to last November, when the Town Board adopted a $4.9 million budget for 2007 that included a 266 percent hike for Middleport residents and a 67 percent increase for town residents outside of the village.

"I think the budget is pretty well fixed now," Rhoney said. "Our expenses and revenues are equal now."

The huge tax increases were prompted by the depletion of the town's fund balance, dating back several years, town officials said. A state audit over the summer criticized the town's accounting practices and lack of planning going back to the late 1990s.

In looking at the proposed 2008 budget, Rhoney listed payroll and rising costs for diesel fuel and blacktop for road repair as driving forces behind the modest tax hike.

"Payroll is one of our biggest expenses, and we had a 3 percent raise for town employees," he said. "But for the third straight year in a row, the supervisor and Town Board did not get a raise."

The Town Board is expected to adopt the budget at its meeting Monday. It must be adopted by Tuesday under state law.


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