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Town of Orleans will not charge general, highway taxes

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LAFARGEVILLE — Orleans’s town government has managed to reduce its overall spending and offset taxes with reserves and sales tax revenue in its 2013 budget.

While there is still a fire protection tax of 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, Orleans will not raise any money through property taxes for its general and highway funds next year.

Instead of levying the difference between spending and revenues, the town is using $308,757 from its general fund balance and is expecting a 7.3 percent increase in sales tax income next year.

Town officials took out roughly the same amount, $304,813, in 2012 from the general reserves to buy down taxes. They projected $1,162,165 in sales tax revenue next year.

At the end of 2009, the town’s auditor found Orleans had built up an “unfair” amount of money in its general reserves — roughly $2.6 million, nearly twice its annual general budget.

Since then, the town has started using more of its “cushion funds” to offset property taxes.

In contrast, the neighboring town of Clayton has set a goal to build its fund balances over the next several years to 15 percent of its annual budget.

Also, Orleans’s total spending, excluding special districts, is decreasing.

The town’s general budget will drop by 1.7 percent, to $1,341,719, and the Highway Department will spend 3.3 percent less — $1,180,857 next year compared with $1,221,954 this year.

Town Council members, Orleans’s clerk and its highway superintendent will receive 3 percent raises next year.

Council members will receive $3,167 each, the town supervisor will be paid $19,006, the clerk will get $30,678 and the highway superintendent will earn $59,000.

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