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BUDGET PASSES WITH TAX HIKE OF 5.2%

Property taxes will be going up -- but not by as much as first feared -- under a $110.7 million budget adopted 7-2 Monday by the Genesee County Legislature.

The spending plan, months in the making, includes a 5.2 percent real property tax rate increase, a drop from the original proposed increase of 9.5 percent; a quarter percent increase for new mortgages, worth $350,000; and a 30-cent monthly surcharge on cell phones that could raise $25,000 next year for the county's 911 emergency service.

Legislators Edward DeJaneiro Jr., D-Batavia, and Earl C. LaGrou III, R-Oakfield, cast the no votes. Both also voted against a 2 percent raise for 110 management employees, a $200,000 gross expense, an amount included in the new budget, and an employee salary schedule, which includes no raises pending negotiations with unions.

The new property tax rate of $10.49 per thousand is a 5.2 percent increase but far below the original spending plan advanced by County Manager Jay A. Gsell.

County attorney Scott D. German said the lawmakers took $1.8 million from a fund balance to lower the tax rate.

The two opponents to the spending plan claimed that any raises were out of line when the new budget eliminates 18 jobs. Gsell blamed a $2.7 million increase in spending over 2004 on state mandates, particularly Medicaid.

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