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Tusten approves budget with slight increase

By Sue LeBar
NARROWSBURG — December 3, 2010 — After much discussion and thought, the issue of scaling back hours at the Tusten Town Hall and cutting back on the bookkeepers’ hours in an attempt to cut costs, the Tusten board made its decision.
The board approved the new budget with a two percent property tax increase, decided to close the town hall on Wednesdays, and cut the hours of the town bookkeeper, Karen Valenti, to 28 hours per week.
Valenti's position was considered full-time with benefits and now it is par- time with a loss of some benefits. Some members of the board wanted Valenti to remain at 35 hours, however, Supervisor Peggy Harrison wanted to cut Valenti’s hours to 20 per week, and a compromise was reached.
At past meetings, board members had stated that there is money in the current budget to cover a full-time bookkeeper and keep the town hall open on Wednesdays for public access.
But Harrison and others stood firm that cuts had to be made to the current budget and that the economic times were to blame for the cuts.
Healthcare for 2011 increased by $22,000, or about 20 percent, retirement payments went from $34,000 to $59,000, which is roughly a 75 percent increase, and workers’ compensation had a 50 percent increase.
It was noted as far as the budget that the increase in the tax rate will amount to roughly $20,000 in tax revenues and retirement payments in 2012 may jump from $60,000 to $87,000 and that the town has to be prepared for such a possible increase and further noted was that the contractual payroll costs will be raised by $15,000 in 2012.

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