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The Royalton Town Board is proposing a 9-cent tax hike in its preliminary $5.9 million budget for 2013, which will be discussed at a public hearing Monday.

The public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. in Town Hall, 5316 Royalton Center Road, to be followed by a regular meeting.

The board is proposing raising the tax rate to $3.22 per $1,000 of assessed value. The current tax levy is $2,795,891 and will rise to $2,860,684 in the proposed 2013 budget.

Total spending is up roughly $300,000 over the current year’s $5.6 million budget.

“It’s just the rising cost of doing business,” said Town Supervisor Jennifer Bieber. “New York State retirement costs, health care costs, the price of gasoline and salt for the Highway Department – everything is going up.

“For example, the New York State retirement costs for the town were $129,000 for 2012; they will be $170,000 in 2013, and they are projected to be $203,000 in 2014. And health care costs are also rising. We are trying to get rates locked in now, while we’re in contract negotiations, so that we can plan for the next three years.”

The highway budget is projected to increase slightly to $2 million in 2013, which includes $200,000 for “some basic upgrades to equipment,” said Bieber. “But it did not affect taxes because they have been saving this money all along for this.”

In special districts, water rates remain constant in the proposed budget, at $250 per unit for those with homes with water service; $50 for land that does not use available water; $10 per unit for those with homes with no town water access; and $1 for property with no water access.

Sewer rates remain steady at $4.77 per $1,000 of assessed value. Lighting is up one cent to 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. Refuse drops slightly from the current $182.82 per unit to $181.75. And the fire protection budget rises 3 percent to $407,650. Royalton contracts with five volunteer fire companies: Middleport, Gasport, Wolcottville, Terry’s Corners and Rapids.

“The department heads know what they need and what they can do without,” Bieber said. “Everybody knew we had to work with what we had … And everyone on this Town Board is planning for the future. We have a few reserve funds set up – for bridges, for example, to try and maintain things the best we can. We are also trying to set money aside for the future for things that right now are just suggestions from the state. We’re trying to stay one step ahead of what will become state mandates.”

Bieber said the board hopes to adopt the budget after the hearing. It must do so by Tuesday.

email: niagaranews@buffnews.com