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Canton town budget hikes taxes, cuts court clerk job

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CANTON - The Canton Town Council has adopted a 2014 budget that increases the tax levy by 3.6 percent and eliminates a half-time court clerk job.

The spending plan eliminates a half-time court clerk job held by Jerry L. McComber, effective Jan. 1. Senior Court Clerk Mark Armstrong will see his salary jump from $33,000 to $37,000.

Ms. McComber is an hourly employee who is paid $15.30 an hour. The 2013 budget allocates $15,912 for her salary.

Town Supervisor David T. Button said the net savings to the town will be roughly $12,000 a year.

Mr. Button said the consolidation of village and town court into a single court system has made it clear that the court clerk duties can be handled by one person.

The switch also reduced the number of Canton judges from four to two.

“It took us about a year to determine what the necessary staffing should be,” Mr. Button said. “We concluded we could get everything done with one full-time staffer. The back office accounting functions have really been streamlined with the consolidation of the court system.”

He said the board has tried to streamline operations and pare back expenses whenever possible.

The budget, unanimously adopted by the five-member Town Council, also includes 3 percent salary increases for all non contractual employees and elected town officials. Other increases include highway, 4.2 percent; recreation, 3 percent; library funding, 3 percent and emergency services, 3 percent.

The tax levy is the amount of revenue collected from property owners. That amount will increase by $42,121, rising from $1,127,011 to $1,168,132.

The tax rate will increase from $2.40 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $2.48.

During the public hearing, the board discussed its fund balance policy. The state comptroller’s office recommends that a municipality with a $2.7 million budget should maintain a fund balance of roughly $550,000, Mr. Button said.

The town expects to end this fiscal year with roughly $350,000 in its fund balance, about $70,000 more than a year ago, he said.

The extra 1 percent St. Lawrence County sales tax is projected to generate roughly $10,000 more next year for the town of Canton, Mr. Button said.

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