By SHIRLEY PULAWSKI
OBSERVER Staff Writer
The town of Pomfret board members have Supervisor Don Steger's proposed budget in hand for review.
Budget negotiations begin with the presentation of a tentative budget to a town board by its supervisor. The supervisor prepares a budget based on known expenses, including contractual obligations such as electricity and lighting as well as staffing costs such as retirement benefits, cost of living wage increases and other factors. A supervisor may also include equipment requested by department heads or other expenditures.
"Health insurance has gone up for employees. With retirement, some costs have gone up and some have gone down," Steger said.
When asked if any surprises were in the budget, Steger said there were not, aside from burdens placed on the town by the county. "We're taking a hit in worker's compensation. ... We're looking at about $57,000," Steger said, based on new budget terms set forth by the county.
All towns and villages must now budget for employee worker's compensation insurance. In the past, the county paid worker's compensation through a chargeback. Going forward, it must be included in a town's initial budget according to the terms set forth by County Executive Greg Edwards.
The change will likely cause 2013 town budgets to increase, according to Susan Marsh, county finance director. "Towns will probably need to override their tax cap for this one-time increase," Marsh said. "It doesn't mean someone's taxes are going to go up, it just means the cost goes from one line to another," she said, meaning the cost to taxpayers would move from their county tax bill to their bill for their local municipality.
"Instead of taxpayers paying for worker's compensation as a chargeback on their real property bill, they will pay to the towns. If a town increases its taxes along with the worker's compensation cost, then taxes will overall go up," Marsh explained, but added as a town's tax levy increases, the county's will decrease proportionately.
The budget, as presented to the board members, is tentative. "It's time to do your homework and look at it," Steger told the group. Negotiations on the budget will begin at a workshop meeting on Oct. 15. The regular board meeting will meet on Oct. 10 at the Lily Dale Fire Hall at 6:30 p.m., following a public hearing at 6:15 p.m. regarding the fire contract. At 6:20, another public hearing will be held regarding the proposed tax cap override.
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