Lebanon board approves 1.7 percent property tax reduction in 2018 budget

Lebanon town board members unanimously app[roved a 2018 budget for the township that includes a reduction in the town tax levy and the town tax rate at its monthly meeting on Monday, Nov. 13 at the Town Office in the hamlet of Lebanon.

Town officials approved a 2018 town budget with a local tax levy of $349,130, which is down $6,057 or 1.7 percent from the 2017 tax levy of $355,187.

The town tax rate for 2018 will be $4.444 per $1,000  which will be down 2.8 percent from the 2017 town tax rate of $4.575 per $1,000. A Lebanon home assessed at $100,000 would pay $444.40 in town taxes next year as compared to $457.50 in 2017, a reduction of about $13.10.

Lebanon Supervisor Jim Goldstein, the town budget officer, reported that due to fiscally conservative spending practices, increased revenues from the town share of county sales tax revenue and stable  town  reserves, in addition to increased revenues, the town was able to grant 3 percent cost of living salary increases to most town officials and a 50 cent per hour increase to full time highway employees for 2018 while reducing taxes. The 2018 town budget will total $906,674 compared to $893,995 in 2017. Some of the increases are due to adding hours to the code enforcement position to improve enforcement and inspection efficiency, and adding to anticipated expenses in the highway department for machinery repair.

Due to substantial reserves built up over the last decade, the town was able to purchase a new highway mower and repair a truck box on a heavy duty truck without having to bond or borrow in 2017, according to Supervisor Goldstein.

In additional action Monday night, Town board members withdrew a proposed local law to override the town tax cap when it became clear that the budget was significantly below the tax cap number, and adopted Local Law No. 3 for 2017 that will allow the Town Clerk to use certain town officials as Deputy Town Clerks should the need arise without a conflict of interest arising. Public hearings were held on both local laws but no residents  attended or offered public comment. The same was true for the public hearing on the budget on Nov. 9.

Town officials are also looking to fill vacancies in a planning board member and alternate position and are looking at a candidate to replace outgoing planning board member Brenda Shimer. Those residents interested in serving on the town planning board as a regular member or alternate should contact Supervisor Goldstein at 315-837-4152 or email him a resume at lebanon@citlink.net. Planning board members serve five years.

Town officials also reported that fire and ambulance contracts were basically flat in comparison to last year with the only increases due to the town’s equalization rate which is currently at 92 percent. Lebanon Assessor Brian Fitts will conduct a revaluation of property in 2008 which should result in lower fire and ambulance tax rates for many town residences once the equalization rates are increased to 100 percent.

Town board members indicated that starting with their December meeting,  they will begin a more detailed review and consideration of the Land Management Local Law changes with a focus on definitions and issues related to recommended changes and possibly expanding the changes to include recommendations on solar farms and larger commercial windmills. Supervisor Goldstein asked town board members to consider forming an ad hoc committee to study the impacts of large solar farms and the growing size of commercial windmills and determine if the town needs to consider additional regulations or not. Town officials have agreed that they are not going to pursue some of the recommendations which included changers in the mobile home park law, the number of homes allowed per lot and allowing recreational vehicles to be year round residences. These and other proposed changes were vehemently opposed by town residents who wrote letters, attended a forum and submitted emails.

The Town Board next meets on Dec. 11 at the Town Office, 1210 Bradley Brook Road in the hamlet.

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