MALTA: Board works on budget

A 2008 preliminary town of Malta budget was accepted by the town council in a special meeting Monday, Oct. 22, but not before tense dialogue about proposed cuts in budget funds for the town clerk's office.

The spending plan, which has passed through a series of board reviews in the last three weeks and will be subject to at least one public hearing, totals $6,471,547, down from the 2007 town budget of $7,226,052. For the seventh consecutive year, there are no town highway taxes. There are tax levies for the volunteer ambulance service award program and for fire protection, which remain the same or decrease slightly from the current rate. Malta homeowners with an average assessment of $200,000 will pay $135 per year for all town services. The town also has two sewer districts, and users pay costs of maintenance and operation.

Other highlights of the preliminary budget:

The highway department will purchase a pickup truck, brush chipper and enclosed tractor at an estimated cost of $145,000.

$115,000 has been earmarked for continued improvements to town parks and the pedestrian/bicycle trail system.

Town comptrollers have estimated county sales taxes, which remain the largest revenue source, will come in at about $3.5 million, which is $100,000 less than the 2007 fiscal year.

$592,000 is included for street repairs and upgrades.

With a harsh winter predicted, $395,000 is included for snow removal costs.

$455,000 is budgeted for youth and community center services.

Town employees will receive cost of living and merit adjustments on the average of 3.5 percent.

A full-time planner will be hired for the building and planning department.

This is a very conservative budget, said Supervisor Paul Sausville.

Sausville then opened discussion for the "one big elephant in the room," which was the decrease in the hours of the deputy town clerk from full-time to 20 hours per week, representing a 19 percent decrease in the overall budget for the office of Flo Sickels, full-time town clerk.

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