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$1.3 million draft budget hikes tax rate

The Wales Town Board is fine-tuning a proposed 2009 budget of $1.3 million that features a tax rate of $3.71 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, a hike of 85 cents.

The 2008 budget of $1.4 million had a tax rate of $2.86 per $1,000.

Supervisor Rickey Venditti, who unveiled the spending plan during a special meeting recently, described the town's fiscal blueprint as "frugal" and one that features a 3 percent salary increase for most employees.

Revenues are $646,372, up $79,672, and expenses are down by $149,885.

The budget will be fed with an expected influx of $308,000 in sales-tax revenue, up $28,000; $22,000 in state revenue, up $2,000; and $60,500 in mortgage tax revenue, up $5,500. The total tax levy is estimated at $530,693.

Other budgetary components are:

* General Fund -- $649,614, with a tax rate of 29 cents per $1,000, down 2 cents.
* Highway fund -- $339,332, with a tax rate of $1.26 per $1,000, up 3 cents.

"It's not just the fuel, it's everything," said Highway Superintendent Michael Zywar, referring to the impact of inflation on his budget.

* Fire protection -- $174,259 for the Wales Center Fire Company, $1.88 per $1,000, down 5 cents. The budget for the South Wales Fire Company was not available.

* Lighting district -- $8,919, 6 cents per $1,000, down a penny.

* Refuse -- $200,991, a 10 percent hike in spending. Venditti noted that the town is putting the refuse collection contract up for bid.

* Salaries for elected officials -- supervisor, $20,132; four councilmen, $5,219 each; town clerk, $33,224; superintendent of highways, $43,750; tax collector, $10,966; chief assessor, $8,149; two assessors, $5,233 each; and two justices, $9,123 each.

The budget will be discussed over the next few weeks. No public hearing has been scheduled yet.

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