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Massena town board members reject raise

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MASSENA — Taxpayers in the town of Massena can look forward to a cut in the tax rate next year.

The decrease for town taxpayers living inside the village will equal 5 percent, or 22 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, giving them a tax rate of $4.23 per $1,000.

For taxpayers residing outside the village, the decrease will be even greater, 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or 14 percent, for a tax rate of $4.60 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

And while the projected tax rates remained as they originally were presented, the Town Council did approve a few modifications to the $7.7 million spending plan.

Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray originally had proposed a $1,000 salary increase for each of the four town board members, but Councilman Albert N. Nicola called the raises unnecessary. Councilman John F. Macaulay said town board members should not get a raise unless the town supervisor does, too.

With salaries for councilmen remaining at $5,000 each, the town’s budget was decreased by $4,000.

Town Clerk Georgette Davis originally was scheduled to receive a 6 percent raise; however, that raise was reduced to 2 percent, in line with the town’s other non-union employees. Her salary will increase from $40,141.27 to $40,944, instead of to $42,549.74.

However, Ms. Davis’s pay for her duties as registrar was increased from the originally proposed amount of $7,450.26 to $8,000. Last year she received $5,834.81 for those duties.

“The registrar brings in a lot more money than she is paid, so there isn’t an impact to the taxpayers there,” Mr. Gray said.

Bookkeeper Nancy Fregoe said the changes will not have an impact on the projected tax rates. “I don’t see it doing anything,” she said.

Town board members ended up accepting the budget mostly as Mr. Gray proposed it. “I’m glad they liked it,” he said.

He also noted that last year’s budget difficulties, resulting in tax rate increases of more than 20 percent, it was nice to have an easy budget year.

“This budget will allow us to simultaneously cut taxes and restore some of our reserve funds, which had been depleted over the past several years,” he said.

The town will hold its public hearing on the budget at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

And while several outside agencies had come to the town board seeking additional funding, board members elected to keep the supervisor’s budget as is, at least heading into next week’s public hearing.

Mr. Gray noted the town’s contract with the village for fire service may change by the time the budget is adopted, but he said he’s not expecting any change to have much of an impact.

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