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Morristown adopts $1.5 million budget

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MORRISTOWN – The town adopted a $1.5 million budget for the 2013 fiscal year at Tuesday’s budget hearing.

The town maintained a rate of $3.09 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Town Supervisor Frank L. Putman said the town was able to keep the same rate over the past three years by reducing, primarily, health care costs.

Over the past three years, the town was able to lower the amount of money spent on health insurance for town employees from $136,361 in 2011 to $62,987 in 2013.

Mr. Putman said the Town Council stopped getting health insurance coverage through the town last year, and this year the town clerk and code enforcement officer have both have their health insurance removed from the town budget as well.

“The only thing we have [mandated by the state] that we can’t control is health insurance,” said David J. Murray, town clerk.

Mr. Putman said that’s the reason the town has been cutting health insurance coverage wherever possible.

With the completion of the River Road East sewer project this fall, Mr. Murray said it was recently discovered that the town still needs to come up with $225,000.

The project cost the town roughly $3.8 million and was nearly eight years in the making.

The Town Council voted to give Mr. Murray the ability to begin tracking down additional funding.

The project will be reimbursed through the state Environmental Facilities Corporation and is backed by no-interest loans.

But the town has to come up with the money in the short term.

“Our annual debt payment is $26,111,” said Mr. Murray.

While the additional money needed for the project will not affect tax rates in the town, it will affect the sewer bill.

Mr. Murray said the cost for a vacant lot hooked up to the new sewer system will be $119 per year, up from $80. A no-flow lot will see its bill rise from $160 to $246.

A full-flow lot will see its annual cost rise from $520 a year to $593.

“What we’re doing is sharing the debt,” said Mr. Murray of the reason for the price hike.

But because the cost of the project rose, Mr. Murray said, even though the tax rate won’t rise, the sewer bill “rates got to raise because we’ve got to pay the bill. That’s what they have to be in order to make the budget work.”

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