Grafton Tax Increase Is 3.6%
by Bea Peterson
Several pay cuts were included in the budget approved by the Grafton Town Board at its regular meeting on Thursday, November 18. Those reductions and other cuts brought the budget to a 3.6% increase or $11.01 per thousand. When the Board first reviewed the 2011 budget, anticipated increases ranged from 8 to 11%.
Town Officers Take Cuts
In the new budget Town employees will receive a 2% raise instead of 3%. Board members gave up the $90 a year raise they received two years ago. Independent auditor Tyler Sawyer and Assessor Tom Withcuskey accepted salaries reduced by $1,500 and Highway Superintendent Herb Hasbrouck’s salary was reduced $1,098. The advertised position of Sole Assessor was changed from $25,000 to $23,000 a year. The Board was asked if the Assessor’s job had been advertised yet and Town Supervisor Allison Kirchner said yes it had and they had received one response.
Grafton resident Cathy Goyer was extremely distressed that the Board had eliminated the $550 allocated for grass cutting in the old Grafton cemeteries. She felt it was extremely disrespectful to those long ago residents. Board members tried to reassure her that they would be maintained through some arrangement with the Sheriff’s Department or in some other way.
About 30 people were at this meeting. That’s ten times the usual number that attend Board meetings. About a third of them had some comment regarding the budget. David Buckley was concerned with the borrowing of funds to cover expenses. He believes the Town is not sticking to the budget and can’t do so without raising taxes. “We can’t keep spending money we don’t have,” he said. Tyler Sawyer responded that some short term borrowing is necessary to meet costs through the year. “The State used to give us our CHIPs money quarterly,” he said. “Now they give us the money in a lump at the end of the year.” Money has to be borrowed to cover CHIPs spending before the reimbursement arrives. The funds to pay for the Senior Center was another sticking point for many. That bond will go on for some time, and it was a commitment made six years ago, Sawyer reminded them.
Supervisor Kirchner added, “This is your budget. We work for you. We have to make compromises and tough decisions. You, the public, are part of it. You are welcome to attend the [budget] workshops.” She also told people she would sit down with them one at a time to answer any questions they might have. Another complaint was that residents were welcome to attend the budget workshops, but they were not allowed to speak.
Hasbrouck lamented the closing of the Grafton school. “That school was the backbone of our community,” he said. Many people moved to Grafton because of that school and now they are leaving, he added. He pointed out that, except for homeowners, “There is no tax base in this Town.” He wondered aloud what could be done to make people want to live in Grafton. At that point Frank Sbrega suggested more people attend the School Board meetings to keep up with what is happening in the District.
Before the public comment session the Board went into Executive Session for 10 minutes to discuss a personnel issue. No comment regarding the session was made when they returned.
In regular business Highway Superintendent Hasbrouck noted that the Thruway Authority would no longer be handling the CHIPs money. It would now be coming to the Towns from the NYS Office of General Services.
Supervisor Kirchner said the Town was meeting with County Waste to discuss trash pickup and, maybe, recycling.
Building Inspector Withcuskey said 29 permits had been issued this year and 40 projects were yet to be completed. He also reminded people that it was time to clean chimneys and furnaces and that CO detectors should also be checked.
The Rescue Squad reported four calls with 8.52 hours expended.
The Supervisor said she had an opportunity to attend a Rescue Squad meeting and was pleased to report that, after the meeting, Andrea Chittenden was reinstated in the Squad.
The Board appointed Martin Sawyer as Dog Control Officer for the period of November 15 to December 31, 2010.
The Board also approved the Supervisor signing an agreement with ECB Communications in the amount of $480 for telephone system maintenance from November 1, 2010 to November 1, 2011.
The meeting was adjourned in memory of Don Evertson, Elsie Goyer and Lillis Bunce.