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Alexandria’s tax levy going up by 91%

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ALEXANDRIA BAY — Alexandria’s rainy-day fund is running low, and town residents next year will see their taxes hiked substantially.

Under its 2013 budget, the town increases its tax levy, or the amount to be raised through property taxes, by 91 percent — to $430,614 from $225,088.

Alexandria’s new tax rate is 71 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, a 33.9 percent jump from this year’s 53-cent rate but still lower than neighboring St. Lawrence River towns.

Supervisor Dale D. Hunneyman said the drastic increase is a result of several factors, including hefty increases in health insurance, retirement benefits and fuel, among other things.

The town also is hiring a new full-time employee at the municipal arena, whose salary will start at $24,960 before benefits.

Next year’s spending plan also includes $12,900 in bond payments for the bumper cars purchased for the arena — a facility that carries an annual deficit of more than $100,000.

Elected officials all declined a pay raise and town workers accepted a 1 percent raise instead of the 3 percent they were supposed to receive.

Mr. Hunneyman’s 2013 salary is $18,530 — he receives an additional $22,418 to serve as the town’s budget officer — and the four Town Council members will receive $2,989 each.

The town also decided not to purchase some highway equipment as part of an effort to shave nearly $70,000 off of the $503,480 first-draft levy amount.

With only $400,000 left in its general fund balance, the town board plans to cut back slowly on the amount it depletes over the next several years.

It still will take out $100,000 from the fund balance to buy down the levy — a lot of money, but much less than the town had used in the past. For example, in 2009 the town board used as much as $232,000 of its fund balance to offset taxes.

Mr. Hunneyman said this is an irresponsible trend that has to end and that the town board must start building up its reserves again.

Alexandria’s total spending, excluding special district funds, is going up by 8.1 percent — to $3,367,724 from $3,113,445 this year.

General spending is up 13.3 percent, to $1,828,912, and the Highway Department expenditures are up by 2.6 percent, to $1,538,812.

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