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Proposed Royalton budget includes tax hike

MIDDLEPORT – The Royalton Town Board expects the tax rate for town residents to rise $.25 cents to $3.63 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in its proposed 2017 budget.

The budget will be presented at a public hearing at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 in Town Hall, 5316 Royalton Center Road.

Residents of the Village of Middleport would see an increase of $.12 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation under the same proposed $6.1 million spending plan.

Supervisor Jennifer Bieber said the proposed tax hike equates to “an additional $25 (a year) for those living in a home assessed at $100,000, which is the average in our town.”

The tax hike is necessary to help the town reduce its reliance on the fund balance to cover costs, she said.

“The board has been diligent in making sure the town is financially healthy and that includes having a good fund balance,” she said. “For example, we used $420,000 in fund balance last year (to balance the 2016 town budget) and we’re going to spend about $254,000 this coming year.”

The proposed budget includes a 2 percent raise for town employees, but the town board and town dog-catcher will not take raises in 2017, Bieber said.

Spending in the proposed budget would drop by $49,000 from the current budget, Bieber noted.

“It’s been a matter of the board going line by line and asking, ‘How much did we spend on this last year and do we need to budget that much again for this year?,’” she said. “By doing this, we cut $47,000 over four (workshop) meetings.”

The amount to be raised by taxes is projected to be $3.09 million representing an increase of 3.81 percent over the current $2.98 million.

“It was not an easy decision to go over the 2 percent state tax cap,” Bieber said. “But New York State has our hands tied. Hopefully, doing this now will prevent us from having to do it again, at least for the next two to three years.”

Bieber noted that water rates remain the same in the proposed 2017 budget.

Sewer rates will rise from $4.92 to $5.17 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, but Bieber noted that the public sewage system is available only to the residents of Gasport. The vast majority of town residents rely on septic systems.

The cost of fire protection services will rise two cents, to $1.42 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Five volunteer fire companies service the town. The drainage tax remains steady at 40 cent per $1,000, while the garbage rate also stays the same at $181.75 per unit.

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