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Adams budget maintains tax rate, but waning general fund balance is concern

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ADAMS — The town’s property tax rate will stay at $1.73 per $1,000 assessed for all property owners, according to the 2014 budget approved Nov. 7.

But while the town managed to avoid raising taxes, its general fund balance has dropped to $169,724.

Supervisor David W. Kellogg said a healthy balance would be about $300,000.

“I’m concerned our general fund reserves are as low as they are, and we need to get them up,” Mr. Kellogg said. “But we’ve also tried to keep our tax rate down here. Building up the balance is going to depend a lot on what the sales tax does, but it seems like we’re betting against the odds.”

The town’s highway fund balance, by contrast, is about $848,000.

Jefferson County sales tax revenue is projected to decrease by $29,698, or 4 percent, from $674,698 to $645,000.

The tax levy, or amount to be raised by taxes, will rise by $10,475, or 1.3 percent, from $801,984 to $812,459. Total spending will drop by $90,852, or 3.2 percent, from $2,841,810 to $2,750,958. The general fund budget is at $834,721, down $23,710 or 2.8 percent, while the highway department budget is set at $1,169,965, down $81,240 or 6 percent.

General fund revenue is down $50,000, or 10.4 percent, from $482,385 to $432,385. Overall highway department revenue is down $48,613, or 6 percent, from $815,296 to $766,683.

Notable expenses include an increase of $7,188, or 20 percent, in health insurance coverage for nine employees, from $35,940 to $43,128. The highway superintendent will receive a 4.2 percent salary increase, from $57,603 to $60,000.

Two percent raises were approved for the supervisor, tax collector, assessor, town clerk, two justices and four board members.

On the revenue side, the town is expected to take in $50,000 less in justice receipts from the Town Court at $200,000.

That is primarily because state troopers on Interstate 81 are issuing fewer speeding tickets, Mr. Kellogg said. Revenue in the fund is generated by fines issued by law enforcement agencies.

“The money we’ve taken for at least the past six months (from fines) has been down because of police retirements,” he said. “Police aren’t out there as much. But we hope that trend could turn around.”

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