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LANCASTER VILLAGE PLAN HIKES RATE 53 CENTS INCREASE IN DEBT SERVICE HELPS FUEL MAYOR'S $5.9 MILLION BUDGET DRAFT

Village of Lancaster residents would see a 5.9 percent tax hike next year if a $5.9 million budget proposed by Mayor William G. Cansdale Jr. is adopted.

An estimated $250,000 increase in debt service is fueling much of the tax increase, according to Village Clerk Mark Aquino. The village must repay money borrowed for village road reconstruction, Aquino said.

However, Cansdale indicated the tax hike could have been higher had the Village Board not instituted a program to improve the village water system, which has been draining the general village fund for the past several years.

The proposed 1995-96 budget includes no payments to the water or sewer funds to subsidize their operations. Under Cansdale's proposal, the water fund would decrease by $40,000 or 3.2 percent to $1.24 million, while the sewer fund would increase $23,000 or 4.4 percent to $553,667.

Cansdale also is looking at saving the village $40,000 to $60,000 in medical insurance costs to offset the increased appropriations in debt service. The general fund for 1995-96 would total $4.1 million, up $88,510 or 2.2 percent, under Cansdale's plan.

The tax rate for village residents in the proposed budget would be $9.43 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, a 53-cent increase from 1994-95 tax rate of $8.90. The tax levy would increase $134,325 or 5.1 percent to $2.8 million.

A public hearing on the tentative budget will be held at 8:30 p.m. April 10 in the Village Hall.

Cansdale proposed applying $60,000 in fund balance to offset the tax rate increase, a $65,000 drop from the sum used in the 1994-95 budget. Cansdale said he would eventually like to eliminate the practice of using the village's reserves to decrease the tax levy after the village was warned in a state audit that it is a bad financial practice.

The budget calls for 4 percent increases for most village employees, including elected officials such as village trustees and the mayor and appointees such as the village prosecutor and village attorney. Aquino said village trustees have not had a raise in about 10 years.

Trustee salaries would increase by $172 to $4,482; the mayor by $195 to $7500 plus a $500 stipend for acting as village budget director; village prosecutor by $236 to $6,138; and the village attorney by $710 to $18,468.

The acting village justice salary would increase by about $2,000 to $4,000 because the village has eliminated the position's health care benefits.

Other budget highlights include a $1,395 decrease in spending for fire protection to $45,450; a $30,459 increase in the Building Inspection Department to $63,225, primarily due to the hiring of a full-time building inspector; and a $50,205 increase in the Police Department to $1.02 million.

Funds also are appropriated in the 1995-96 budget for Lancaster Visions, $4,000 to help defray costs related to the Taste of Lancaster event; $2,500 for a power supply study to determine the electricity needs in the Village Hall due to the installation of computers over the years; and $4,000 to renovate the police dispatch area in the village Police Department.

Cansdale defended the full-time building inspector post, noting that the proposed budget anticipates increased revenues in the Building Inspection Department next year from permit fees.

The budget must be adopted by May 1.

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