SHERBURN - Sherburn has increased its levy more than 100 percent in the last decade. But Monday evening's public hearing about the town's 2011 budget brought with it the smallest levy increase proposed since 2004.
With practices such as reducing set-aside funds each year and closing City Hall to the public two afternoons per week to help save money, the city is looking at a levy hike of 9 percent for 2011, or about $50,000.
"Our levy has gone up over 100 percent in the past 10 years to make up for the lost government aid," explained city administrator Jaime Letzring.
Even though the city decreases spending each year, Letzring offered several graphs to show how continued cuts in state aid have meant Sherburn must make up for more on its own.
This year's budget will not only see the continuation of the closing of City Hall to the public on Thursday and Friday afternoons, but the city also decreased its delinquent taxes from 3 percent to 2 percent. There were also adjustments made on property and liability insurance rates, and the city will see an increase in ambulance revenue as it helps serve the town of Ceylon.
"We are anticipating another 5 percent drop in (local government aid) funds," Letzring said. "We have budgeted for $260,000 in local government aid. The number they gave us was higher, but I don't feel confident in building our budget around that number when we could see more cuts."
There is another possible levy decrease, Letzring said, if a project for City Hall is instead paid for with general funds. This would reduce the levy to a 7.1 percent hike.
No action was taken on the budget presentation. The final 2011 budget will be voted on at the next council meeting, Dec. 20.
In other business, the City Council discussed retrofitting the fire hall, community center and incubator space with energy-efficient lighting. Cost of the project is $18,000, while the council has $15,000 budgeted for just the fire hall. Retrofitting is expected to save thousands of dollars in lighting costs. The council agreed to speak to the company that proposed the project.