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Highway tax stalls in town

November 5, 2012
By ARTHUR CLEVELAND , The Leader Herald

AMSTERDAM-The town has rejected a proposal to impose a new highway tax. Town Supervisor Thomas DiMezza warned the rejection opens the town to the possibility of budget cuts.

The highway tax would have levied about $275,000 to be specifically applied toward the highway fund, DiMezza said. The proposed rate was about $7 per $1,000 of assessed value on a resident's home.

The Town?Board rejected the proposal at its meeting Wednesday.

It was supposed to help rectify what DiMezza deemed a revenue issue, noting the escalating costs for pensions, health insurance, liability insurance, gasoline, equipment and other routine business expenses.

Currently, the town has only $1,100 remaining in fund balance for the highway budget.

"As I warned the board, we are putting the town in jeopardy of going into the red," DiMezza said.

The new tax would have raised taxes above state's 2 percent tax cap.

Terry Bieniek, a town councilman, said he is against any form of tax increase or fees.

"I just feel that as a town, we have been very generous," Bieniek said, citing the benefits to employees and to town groups.

"I don't think [the town] ever went through a year where we tightened our belts," Bieniek said, stating he would rather cut spending before raising taxes.

Without this new form of revenue, DiMezza said there would need to be several other budget cuts.

In another special meeting scheduled for today, council members will be allowed to bring forth resolutions to augment the 2013 budget proposal to try and balance it.

DiMezza also said layoffs could be possible for the town's Highway Department. However, he said he would not want to start laying people off until after winter for the sake of road safety.



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