Hampton Town Board grappling with increases as it tries to adhere with tax cap

B y Derek Liebig

Hamstrung by the lowest assessment in the county and burdened by worker’s compensation and health insurance costs, the Hampton Town Board is facing another difficult year as it begins putting together next year’s budget.

The board began work last week with nearly $6,000 in expenses to trim from its preliminary budget if it hopes to comply with the state mandated 2-percent tax cap.

And that figure does not include a request from the Hampton Volunteer Fire Department for additional funding, which if approved in full, would leave the town nearly $25,000 over the allowable tax cap levy, the amount of money raised from property taxes.

“Last year we were facing pressure from worker’s compensation and we still have that pressure this year,” Supervisor David O’Brien said. “It’s still going to be extremely tight.”

The town had to make a worker’s compensation payment of nearly $15,000 this year, which had a significant impact on the tax levy.

The payment was the result of a claim made nearly four years ago that affected the town’s experience rating, a measure used to determine the cost of a premium.

The town’s premium is expected to peak this year at $17,500 before beginning to decline next year.

“Worker’s compensation absolutely killed us,” Kim Perry, budget officer, said.

The town is also facing an increase in the cost of health insurance, but the exact amount is unknown.

Officials have budgeted an additional $4,000 for health insurance costs, but admit they don’t know what the increase will be.

“The Affordable Care Act is a wild card. We know its going to jack up some things, but we don’t know the (exact) impact,” O’Brien said.

The tentative budget included nearly $350,000 in expenses, $46,000 in revenues and $33,000 in unexpended balance that would result in a tax levy of $270,000, an increase of 5.71-percent, or $14,953 from last year.

The highest the tax levy can be without exceeding the 2-percent tax cap is $264,602.

After making some adjustments, which included a 2-percent, across-the-board raise for town employees (excluding the town board) and an additional $22,000 for the Hampton Fire Department, the tax levy increased to $289,355. That’s an increase of 13-percent to the overall tax levy and an increase of 15-percent for residents of fire district one, which includes nearly 80-percent of Hampton’s population.

Residents in fire district two, who receive fire protection from the Fair Haven (Vt.) Fire Department, would only see a 5-percent increase in the tax levy.

Those figures, however, are not set in stone. All budget requests are subject to change and officials have not decided what increase, if any, the fire department will receive.

The fire department currently receives $27,813, but has asked for a three-year contract worth $132,000.

O’Brien has said in the past the town would like to give the department more money, but has very little wiggle room to do so. Hampton’s total assessed value is the lowest in Washington County and a $2,000 increase in expenses is roughly the equivalent of a 1-percent increase in the tax levy.

“We have a lot of work left to do,” O’Brien said.

The town will hold a budget workshop at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 30, and a second is scheduled, if necessary, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11.

A public hearing on the preliminary budget and the fire department contract will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16.

 

Comments

comments

Read more in this week's Sentinel in newsstands now or click here to read right now with our e-edition.

Read more in this week's Times in newsstands now or click here to read right now with our e-edition.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Car Show in Granville Sunday

Autumn Leaves Car Show 2016

By Krystle S. Morey The 31st annual Autumn Leaves Car Show, hosted by the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce, is […]

Whitehall homecoming this weekend

Whitehall homecoming 2016 parade

  By Matthew Saari The annual homecoming dance is scheduled for this Saturday and students at Whitehall High School have […]

Whitehall to face Cambridge Saturday

Whitehall Football 2017

  By Matthew Saari Whitehall’s football team may boast an undefeated record for the season but the Railroaders’ mettle is […]

‘Shine on Shelby’ drive continues

Shelby McEachron

By Krystle S. Morey Following the unexpected death of a local woman, the community has poured out in support of […]

Lakes Region Freepress – 09/15/17

Lakes_9_15_17.pdf-web.pdf

Northshire Freepress – 09/15/17

Northshire_9_15_17.pdf-web.pdf

Weekender – 09/15/17

Weekender 9_15_17.pdf-web.pdf

North Country Freepress – 09/15/17

FreePress_9_15_17.pdf-web.pdf

518 Wheels – 09/13/17

518 Wheels 9_14_17.pdf-web.pdf

Champlain Beef seeking to buy McDonald’s site

The former McDonald's location on Broadway has stood vacant since August 2015.

By Matthew Saari After standing vacant for more than two years, the site that formerly housed a McDonald’s fast-food shop […]

Bridge work closes road

Lower Turnpike Bridge

By Krystle S. Morey A portion of Lower Turnpike in North Granville has been closed to perform minor structural work […]

Fire company gets $47k grant

Granville Engine and Hose

By Krystle S. Morey Granville Engine and Hose Company has been awarded a federal grant of $50,000 that Chief Ryan […]