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The Lancaster Town Board on Monday night adopted without comment an $18.2 million budget for 2003 that, combined with its special districts, will raise taxes in the town by even more than the original estimate of 12.4 percent.

Because the adopted budget includes adjustments the board made since the preliminary budget was unveiled last month, the projected tax increase will be "slightly higher" than anticipated, Supervisor Robert H. Giza said after the meeting.

The adjustments include an increase in the amount to be raised by taxes of $125,000. The board approved the spending plan, with only Councilman Richard Zarbo voting no.

The general fund under the preliminary budget was originally expected to increase the tax rate by 27 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, bringing it to $2.84. That, too, will be slightly higher, Giza said.

When the budget was first presented, he said, it was the "most challenging" since his first year as supervisor. Giza attributed the increase to "big ticket" items, including health and other insurance, workers' compensation and state retirement, all of which accounted for almost half of the increase.

Giza said Monday it was a gap in the state retirement pension fund, which depends on the stock market, that caused this latest increase.

He added that since the preliminary budget was released in October, the board made some cuts, which would have lowered the tax increase somewhat, but were offset by the state pension gap.


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