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Morristown focused on cutting insurance costs and saving fund balance in 2014 town budget

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MORRISTOWN - The Town Council worked on tweaking the 2014 budget on Tuesday night, focusing on saving money in health insurance payments and growing their fund balance.

The council will meet again on Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m. to continue budget negotiations before holding a public hearing on Nov. 12.

Town Supervisor Frank L. Putman said the Nov. 4 meeting will be focused on determining whether or not there are savings to be had by switching insurance plans for highway department employees and retirees.

The budget will likely be voted on at the Nov. 12 meeting.

No raises have been proposed in next year’s budget.

The proposed $1.4 million budget does not include the use of any of the town’s fund balance.

Mr. Putman said the town is trying to avoid using any of its fund balance in next year’s budget after the state advised against it.

“When we did the loans for the sewer district [on River Road East], the state felt that we had been trying to keep our tax rate under by using too much fund balance,” Mr. Putman said.

The town has managed to keep its tax rate at $3.09 per $1,000 of assessed property value for the past three years, but this year the tax rate is likely to increase to roughly $3.2.

The town’s fund balance was declining too rapidly for the state’s liking, Mr. Putman said, “and they wanted us to turn that around.”

Mr. Putman said, because the town is not applying any of its fund balance to the 2014 budget, any money that it does not spend will go to help boost its reserves.

At Tuesday’s work session the council tentatively approved switching to Humana for retiree health insurance plans.

That decision could save more than $10,000 a year for the town.

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