B y Jaime Thomas
The Granville Town Board passed a preliminary budget Thursday night, which if adopted will mean a 1.12 percent increase in the tax levy.
The approximately $14,000 increase would raise taxes to $1,198,720 from $1,185,484 and would fall under the state’s 2-percent tax cap.
Though the preliminary budget still has to undergo a public hearing before it is adopted, Town Supervisor Matt Hicks thinks the increase will not change much.
“I don’t think there will be any major swings, but we may need to make some tweaks here and there,” he said.
Most of the increases in the budget stem from wage increases for town workers, the bulk of whom work for the highway department, workers compensation and healthcare fees. Every volunteer firefighter and emergency responder, for example, is covered by the county for workers compensation, but each town contributes to that expenditure.
The board approved a new healthcare plan for town employees, one of which a couple of area towns have found to be cost saving.
“Rates keep going up. It seems like healthcare changes from month to month, so we have to look for a plan that’s good for the town and good for the workers,” Hicks said. The new plan will have a higher deductable but lower premiums, so savings will more than make up for the deductable. Additionally, each employee will have a health savings account which will roll over and grow from year to year.
“I firmly believe it’s our only option. Other towns are doing it, and otherwise our premiums are going to go out of sight,” Hicks said.
He said the town has been between zero and 2 percent for the past two years with the budget, and this year’s increase will factor in money that will later come in from Washington County. That amount, however, is not determined until spring, when a budget is already long-passed.
“Instead of delaying a year, we’re paying a year ahead so we’re accurate,” Hicks said of the budget.
The public hearing for the preliminary budget, during which the community and the board will have a chance to suggest changes, will be held at 6 p.m. on held on Oct. 22.