WESTFIELD - Workers' compensation was a monkey wrench in the Westfield Town Board's plan to stay under the tax levy limit for its 2013 budget.
The board met Wednesday, Nov. 7 for a public hearing on the budget and its regular meeting. Supervisor Martha Bills explained the total budget is $1,879,826 with the amount to be raised by the tax levy at $761,151.
She explained this is a difference of $19,746 from last year's budget, which was due in part to increased expenditures like retirement and health insurance, but mostly due to the change in the way workers' compensation is billed.
"We were able to, through various (budget lines), absorb some of the costs in our budget," Bills said. "We had to cut back in some areas, but the thing that happened that made us go to this point, raising it $19,000, was the shift from the county for workers' compensation.
"The shift to the town budget was not counted in our base amount for the tax levy limit, so this year there is an increase of $20,804, that will be increased to our base budget, that is what we pay for workers' compensation," Bills said.
The town board passed a local law to override the tax cap in order to not be penalized for going over by the tax levy limit due to the amount for workers' compensation. However, while the tax rate has increased, the town did not exceed the tax levy limit, staying under the limit by $5,000. The tax rate without special districts for residents within the village amounted to $2.59 per $1,000 assessed value, a $0.04 increase from last year, and $3.02 for out of village residents, a $0.29 increase.
Deputy Supervisor Ray Schuster said the town has been able to keep the tax rate flat for the past eight years, but was not able to do so this year.
"I just think everybody should know it's been eight years since we had a tax increase and every year we keep borrowing from our fund balances and it's just got to the point where we can't do that anymore," Schuster said. "We had to increase the taxes this year ... It was a tough decision but it's what we had to do to maintain what we are doing."
The board unanimously passed a resolution to adopt the 2013 budget.
The next town board meeting will be held Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in Eason Hall.
In other business:
The town accepted the bid from Valley Fab for $56,000 for hydraulics for a plow truck. The board also authorized the purchase of a 2013 Freightliner Tandem Axle and Chassis from the machinery capital reserve fund not to exceed $108,000, subject to permissive referendum. Bills said the town will not receive the vehicle until spring and this will replace a 13-year-old snow plow.
The board adopted the Town of Westfield Fee Schedule. Bills said the only change is the charge for call towers from $500 to $1,000. This will be posted to the town's website at www.townofwestfield.org.
The board approved a water sale agreement allowing a customer on Rogerville Road to connect into the Shorehaven Benefit District on Route 5. Bills said this agreement allows only one home to hook in and other hook-ups to the same line would need permission from the town.
Christmas in the Village weekend, formerly Victorian Christmas weekend, will be held Nov. 16-18 to kick off the holiday season.