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TAX CUT, NO INCREASE IN WATER AND SEWER RATES HIGHLIGHT PLANNED BUDGET

A 10-cent tax cut and no increases in water and sewer rates are the highlights of the proposed 1998-99 budget presented by Mayor Frank Pagano to the Board of Trustees on Monday night.

The taxes would be $25.25 per $1,000 under the $6,302,000 budget. Taxes had been at $25.35 for the past three years.

Pagano said the increase in spending was $115,000, or 1.86 percent more than last year.

"This represents an increase of $55,000 in the general fund, $4,000 in the water fund and $56,000 in the sewer fund," he said in the budget message.

Pagano noted that the assessed valuation in the village is $78,043,837. Trustee Michael Sullivan remarked that the assessed valuation has been "going up a bit each year."

Also, other revenues has increased, such as the cable television franchise fee, which increased $9,000 to $49,559, Pagano said.

The village also expects to see increased sales-tax revenue and funding from other sources, said Pagano, who praised department heads for keeping spending down.

Capital projects include $400,000 for drainage, which includes the Newton and Cottage streets storm sewers; $50,000 for the village's share of the Water Street project; $175,000 for repaving Eagle Street; $26,000 as the village's share of the Barker Commons beautification project; and $200,000 for a new roof and improvements at the wastewater-treatment plant.

Officer Dale Ricker, president of the Police Benevolent Association, told the board that the association wants a 16th patrolman post restored. The job was removed a few years ago.

Village officials said the job would cost $1 million over a 20-year period. "The village has 3,210 taxable parcels of property and 10,423 residents, according to the Town of Pomfret assessor and the people at the Southern Tier West Regional Planning Board. The $1 million cost would be $15.50 per parcel per year or $4.80 per year per resident," he said.

The budget now will be reviewed by the board, and changes can be made until April 15. Also, a public hearing must be held before that date. The budget must be adopted by May 1 for the fiscal year that begins June 1.

In other business, the board approved a new configuration for the Village Hall parking lot on Church Street. Sixteen spaces will be reserved for police vehicles and village employee parking. Trustee Michael Sullivan opposed the plan.

"The village lots should be first-come first-served," he said.

The board also approved a one-year contract with the Route 60 sewer district in the Town of Pomfret. The contract must also be approved by the Town of Pomfret Board.

In other matters, Ricker and Gus Potkovick, a village resident, spoke about the qualifications and procedures for choosing a new police chief. Chief Daniel Johnson is retiring as of May 1.

Both said that the Police Benevolent Association should be consulted.

Pagano disagreed.

"The employees don't pick the boss in the private sector," Pagano said.

"I have faith in the board to make the right choice," he added.

Trustee EvaDawn Bashaw said the board received information from the state Chiefs of Police organization and other departments on qualifications, questions to ask at the interview and other material.

The board is asking for a minimum of a four-year degree and two years of supervisory experience, or a two-year degree and four years of supervisory experience. The police union has said that only one officer in the department qualifies. Previously, chiefs have been chosen from the department ranks.

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