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Alexandria dropping costly health insurance for town councilmen

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ALEXANDRIA BAY — Alexandria is dropping costly health insurance benefits for Town Council members.

“It’s town policy that we do not give health benefits to our part-time people. And town board members are part-time as far as the state’s concerned,” said town Supervisor Dale D. Hunneyman.

This move alone would save Alexandria taxpayers $34,000 in the following year, Mr. Hunneyman said.

For the past several months, the town supervisor and Councilman Brent H. Sweet have been putting pressure on their fellow board members — who argued they were full-time workers, and thus deserve health insurance coverage through the town government — to agree to the termination of this costly program.

Despite a projected 5 percent drop in sales tax revenue and $10,000 decrease in bed tax income, the town is not taking any money out of its fund balance to buy down property taxes in 2014, Mr. Hunneyman said.

Mr. Hunneyman has been warning the town board that Alexandria’s “rainy day funds” were running low and that it cannot continue depleting its fund balance to temporarily offset taxes.

He estimated that about $250,000 would remain in the town’s general fund balance at the end of the year.

The levy, or the amount to be raised through property taxes, will be $444,226 next year — up by 2 percent or $8,612 from 2013.

Alexandria’s tax rate is increasing accordingly, to 73 cents per $1,000 of assessed value from 71 cents in 2013.

Salaries for elected officials next year will remain the same as 2013, except the highway superintendent’s, which is going down.

Alexandria residents will be voting in a new superintendent Tuesday to succeed longtime Highway Superintendent David H. Bain.

The new superintendent will be paid $48,900, which is $18,467 less than what Mr. Bain was paid in 2013.

Alexandria’s supervisor/budget officer, councilmen and town clerk will be paid $40,948 , $11,956 each and $49,151, respectively.

The two town justices’ salaries also will remain unchanged from 2013 at $11,850 each.

The town’s general spending will remain virtually the same at $1,732,251, a $3,487 increase from 2013, and total highway expenditures will be $1,538,812, up by 2.6 percent or $39,270.

To purchase a new truck for its Highway Department, the town board has set aside $75,000, but this extra expense will be offset by replacing two full-time highway positions with two seasonal employees.

The town board will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2014 budget at its November monthly meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the town offices, Old Goose Bay Road.

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