Hampton board makes cuts with eye on tax cap

O fficials in the town of Hampton are looking for areas to save money after an initial review of the 2013 budget revealed that expenses would necessitate a tax increase in excess of 2 percent if further cuts were not made.

The Board of Trustees cut more than $7,000 from an already tight budget last week and will need to find a way to cut at least an additional $1,540 to comply with a state mandate that puts a cap of 2 percent on any tax increase.

“This is a very difficult budget,” Supervisor Dave O’Brien said during a budget workshop last Wednesday. “We don’t know what’s going to happen next year so we have to play it close to the vest.”

The primary reason for the shortfall is a decrease in the amount of revenue the town expects to receive in 2013 and an increase in the amount of money the town has to pay for workers’ compensation.

“Workers’ comp. put us in this situation,” said Kim Perry, the town’s budget officer.

Officials expect to pay nearly $15,000 in worker’s compensation this year, double what it had to pay last year.

The amount the town has to pay into the county’s worker compensation plan has increased because of a $15,000 claim made three years ago.

That claim affected the town’s experience rating, which is a method used by insurance providers to determine the premium based on a group or individual’s history of claims.

The rating uses historic data to determine future risk and premiums are adjusted accordingly. The more frequent the claim or the larger the claim, the greater the risk and the higher the premium.

In Hampton’s case, its premium has doubled every year since the $15,000 claim was made. That premium is expected to peak with the 2013 budget.

In order to make up for that increase and a more than $8,500 reduction in estimated revenues, the board cut nearly $860 in estimated contractual expenses from its town clerk, $2,000 from its attorney, $1,000 from its building repair fund, $500 from central printing and mailing, $2,500 from the Highway Department’s general repairs fund, and eliminated a $300 raise for the highway superintendent.

Board members also suggested they would be willing to take a $500 pay cut but that decision has yet to be finalized.

The board will meet again on Oct. 3 and will examine other areas where they can make cuts, including the Highway Department.

They expect to finalize a budget at that time and will present it to the public during a hearing at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13.

 

In other matters the board approved a resolution authorizing the town court to submit a Justice Court Assistance Grant application.

The program, which is administered by the state, provides assistance to town and village courts for a variety of purposes including office and security equipment, furniture and courtroom renovations.

If the application is successful, officials would use the money to purchase new computer equipment and furniture, such as desks and chairs.

 

Construction of the new town hall continues to progress and officials are hopeful they will be in the building by Oct. 15.

“Things are going well. It’s not done, there’s still a lot to do, but we’ve done a lot already,” said O’Brien.

A foundation and rough framing were completed at the beginning of the month and a slate roof was finished last weekend. Work to the interior, including insulation, the installation of an electric system, plumbing and drywall are expected to be performed during the next few weeks.

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