Canton budget passes, with hesitation

Though unanimously passed 4-0, Canton town board members approved the 2014-2015 budget with some hesitation. The budget came in at $7,718,836, which is up from $7,085,956 for 2013-2014.

A key item in the approved budget was a pay increase for town employees. The board OK’d a 2.5 percent cost of living adjustment, with employees assured a minimum increase of $750 annually.

“We have some great employees and they deserve this raise,” Alderwoman Carole Edwards said.

“One of things I campaigned for was to give the workers of this town a raise,” Alderman Zeb Smathers praised the budget item.

The budget also includes $180,000 for a new street sweeper. And an additional $15,986 in the recreation fund, primarily because of the design service needed to move forward with improvements at the Canton pool. 

“The pool is a crown jewel of this town, and something to be proud of,” Smathers said.

Canton’s new budget also maintains the current tax rate of 58 cents per $100 of property valuation. The town will also appropriate $259,484 from the fund balance — a decrease of 56 percent from the $589,527 that was appropriated during the 2013-2014 fiscal year — and raise solid waste collection fees from $9 to $10.25 per month, with $23,400 included in assistance to offset privatization.

When approving the new budget, Edwards recommended her fellow board members keep an eye toward the future.

“We need to be careful where we spend our money because we don’t know what the future holds,” said the alderwoman.

Board members gave a collective nod toward the uncertain future of the Evergreen Packaging paper mill and agreed that the long view must be taken into account when mapping out the budget.

“[The mill’s] tax incentives go away next year,” said Alderwoman Gail Mull. “They aren’t pushing to sell it, but it’s out there for someone to buy it.”

Canton’s budget goes into effect July 1.

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