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Taxes Lower in Mt. Pleasant 2012 Budget

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. – Town property taxes would decrease slightly under Mount Pleasant's proposed $39 million budget for 2012.

The preliminary 2012  budget, released Tuesday, shows a decrease of $54,020 from the 2011 budget, a 0.13 percent drop. The budget decrease will lower the tax rate by $2.87 per thousand, or a drop of about $28 on an average house with a $9,700 assessment said Mount Pleasant Comptroller Tina Peretti.

“We have a checkbook mentality," said town board member Mark Rubeo. "That is, don’t spend what you don’t have."

The preliminary budget stays within the state's new 2 percent tax cap. It raises the tax levy-- the total pool of money raised by town property taxes --  by 1.88 percent.  The 2012 levy is $24.48 million, up from $24.03 million in 2011.  Peretti said that residents' tax rates will decrease even though the levy increases because a new business in Mount Pleasant is paying a larger share of the tax pie.

Rubeo said that the decision to remain under the tax cap was an easy one.

“If you look at our history, over the past five years, we’ve managed to always keep it under a two percent tax increase," he said. "So this is sound fiscal policy that we’ve always done.”

By managing previous budgets in such fashion, Rubeo said that the board and town department heads were not forced to scramble to construct an acceptable budget.  Over the past two years, the town has eliminated 15 positions, which saved residents approximately $325,000. In this year’s proposed budget, regular staff costs in areas such as the Justice Court have been reduced from $289,053 to $266,392 and in the Town Clerk’s office from $135,251 to $117.424.

Rubeo added that certain positions within the town's Highway Department were altered earlier this year in order to save funds. In the preliminary 2012 budget, general repair costs in regular staff in the highway department were reduced from $1.61 million to $1.40 million and in permanent part-time positions from $60,000 to $55,000.

Rubeo said that a major factor in the budget process was Town Supervisor Joan Maybury’s ability to manage the many departments within Mount Pleasant.

“She lets everybody know it’s budget season and everyone needs to look at their budgets and find ways to save money,” Rubeo said. “It’s frustrating because you have so many ideas for improvements, but it’s like wanting to buy a new living room set for your house, if you don’t have the money you can’t do it and you have to live within your means.”

A copy of the town’s preliminary budget can be accessed by residents on the Mount Pleasant town website.

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