PORTLAND - The 2009 budget adopted Wednesday by the Portland Town Board calls for no changes in the tax rate set at $4.88 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Supervisor Dan Schrantz said the board worked diligently to keep the 2009 tax rate the same as the 2008 rate.
"We had to increase the 2009 town wide highway account by $37,760 to cover anticipated cost increases in fuel and road materials but we were able to reduce the tax levies for the general fund by $29,983 and the town library by $7,797," he said.
The 2009 budget also reflects a $10,000 increase in health insurance for town employees, raising this cost to $50,820.
Currently, the employees do not contribute to this coverage, Schrantz said.
He also said the board decided to continue using bottom ash on town roads for snow and ice control.
"If we were to discontinue this use, we would have had to add another 30 cents per thousand to the tax rate to pay for the alternative material that would be needed to keep the roads clear," he said.
He also said a petition containing 80 signatures supporting the use of bottom ash has been presented to the board.
Asked if the petition had any influence on the board's decision to continue using the bottom ash, Schrantz said no.
"We received the petition after we made our decision," he said.
Portland resident Diane Hofner, who has been leading the objection to the use of the bottom ash, said the board's decision will not deter her fight.
"Because of my concerns about the health and environment dangers the continued use of bottom ash causes, I am determined to pursue my efforts to get its use discontinued," she said.
She continued, "I'm aware I am not going to get the Town of Portland to agree with my position, so I'm going to carry it to the state and federal levels."
So far, she has contacted the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the state's Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton, U.S. Representative Brian Higgins, state Senator Cathy Young and state Assemblyman William Parment.
She is awaiting replies from these agencies and elected officials.