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Antwerp increases budget tax levy to cover costs

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ANTWERP — The 2013-14 budget approved Wednesday by the village Board of Trustees will increase the tax rate to pay for rising retirement costs, improvement projects and raises for board members.

Under the plan for the fiscal year, which starts June 1, the tax rate will jump from $6.73 to $7.03 per $1,000 of assessed value compared with this year, an increase of 4.5 percent. The village’s total tax levy will increase $3,210, or 2 percent, from $164,052 to $167,262.

State retirement costs, which affect four village employees, climbed 13 percent, from $16,613 this year to $19,123. Recreation-fund spending will increase because the village plans to finish several projects this year, said Clerk Amy Cole.

Projects include a roof above the skating rink at the village park on Main Street, along with other beautification projects there. The budget includes a $3,500 in the playground fund, which accounted for only $332 this year; it also includes $1,500 in the parks fund, which wasn’t funded this year.

Raises were approved for the four village council members, doubling their pay from $1,200 this year to $2,400. Mayor Calvin L. Jones’s salary also doubled, jumping from $2,796 to $5,592.

“We haven’t had a change in salary here since the late 1980s, and this puts us in line with neighboring communities,” Mrs. Cole said. “The board has talked about this for quite a few years.”

Overall spending in the budget will increase by $26,563, or 4.7 percent, from $559,583 this year to $586,146.

The most urgent concern faced by the village, Mrs. Cole said, will be paying for repairs needed at the sewage plant on Main Street. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has required the village to repair the station this year. The $3.8 million project will install two new rotating biological contactors used to treat water at the plant. Sand filters will be installed to improve the water quality, and the plant’s two full-time operators will need to upgrade their licenses.

Mrs. Cole said the village has received a “letter of commitment” from the state Environmental Facilities Corp., which plans to provide funds for the project. But the village doesn’t know how much grant funding it will secure and how much of the cost will be left to the village, which will affect how much residents are charged to pay off a long-term loan.

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