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Canton town budget to raise tax rate by about 3%

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CANTON — Property owners will see an increase in their town tax bills under a proposed 2014 budget that provides 3 percent salary increases for all noncontractual employees and elected town officials.

The proposed $2,720,017 town spending plan is $101,201 higher than this year’s $2.6 million budget and falls within the state’s mandated tax cap.

The amount raised by taxes would increase by $42,121, from $1,127,011 to $1,168,132.

Town Supervisor David T. Button said town officials cut the tax rate from 2008 and 2011 in response to the decline in the economy, but have decided to boost the budget since the economy has been improving.

The town’s tax levy increased by 4.8 percent this year.

“During the economic downturn, we cut the tax rate without a revaluation. We’re now just getting back to the tax rate we had in 2008,” Mr. Button said.

Also, sales tax and mortgage tax revenues are projected to go up, along with new home construction, which adds to the town’s tax base. Justice court revenues have increased because the town took over the village court system.

Under the proposed spending plan, the tax rate would increase from $2.40 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $2.48 per $1,000, a 3.3 percent increase.

The town also plans to allocate $31,805 from its fund balance to offset taxes, compared with $84,438 that was allocated this year.

Despite the increase, Mr. Button said, the town still has among the lowest property tax rates in St. Lawrence County.

In the proposed budget, the largest increase, 4.2 percent, is for additional spending for the highway department, which has been working on a five-year plan to improve town roads.

Mr. Button said the town is paying William E. Dashnaw, retired county highway department head, $1,000 a year to help develop a long-term plan for rehabilitating the town’s roads.

“We’ve been able to do twice as many road miles. We’re in the third year of a five-year process, and we’d like to stick close to that plan,” Mr. Button said. “We’re getting a lot more done than we used to.”

Other increases include 3 percent raises for noncontractual employees, which essentially covers all staff except highway workers.

Elected officials also will receive 3 percent salary increases. Members of the Town Council will see their annual wages increase from $4,635 to $4,774. The Town Council members are Paul F. Backus, James T. Smith, Daniel G. Fay and Jesse C. Coburn.

Mr. Button’s supervisor salary will increase from $13,504 to $13,909, representing a $405 hike. His wife, Denice Button, will see her bookkeeper salary increase from $35,077 to $36,129.

The budget also allocates $42,000 for Highway Superintendent Terry A. Bilings; $37,071 for Court Clerk Lisa A. Hammond; $26,926 for Judge Cathleen E. O’Horo; and $26,500 for Deputy Court Clerk Mallory A. James.

The budget also calls for a 3 percent increase for recreation and restores a summer college student employment program. It increases library funding by 3 percent and allocates money to manage new lighting on Canton-Morley Road. Funding for emergency services also increases by 3 percent.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 28 in the municipal building, 60 Court St. The Town Council is expected to adopt the budget that evening.

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