The Examiner

Mt. Pleasant Prepared to Exceed Tax Cap in 2013 Budget

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Mount Pleasant Supervisor Joan Maybury

Faced with ballooning costs for employee pensions and health insurance, it is expected that Mount Pleasant Supervisor Joan Maybury will release a 2013 budget that will exceed the 2 percent state tax cap.

The town board is slated to schedule a Nov. 27 public hearing on overriding the tax levy cap when it convenes next on Tuesday night.

During the town board’s Oct. 16 work session, Maybury said she was still working on the tentative budget and had not finalized spending and property tax levels for next year. Next year’s tentative spending plan is scheduled to be released by Oct. 30.

However, Maybury said she would ask the board to approve a 2013 budget that would exceed the property tax cap. None of the other town board members rejected the idea.

“A lot of expenses, pensions, health insurance” were forcing the tax levy cap, Maybury told her town board colleagues. Employee health insurance costs are set to rise by about $200,000 in 2013, she said. The cost of health insurance per town employee has risen by about $5,000, from $13,000, in 2006, though many town workers pay a portion of their insurance premiums, Maybury said.

Maybury said the town has been fiscally prudent with low property tax rates for many years. Still, spending cuts will likely be required.

“We are still looking for things to cut,” she said.

Maybury has asked the board to consider the layoff of one full-time civilian employee in the police department and to convert three positions in other departments from fulltime to part-time.

The town could help reduce costs next year by offering retirement incentives for veteran employees. But Maybury added that “we don’t have a lot to offer.”

The town’s workforce has been reduced markedly in recent years, Maybury said. Six years ago, the town had 153 employees, while this year there are 138 workers.

“Mount Pleasant never has had excess employees,” Councilman Carl Fulgenzi said.

Diminishing tax revenues have also taken its toll on municipal finances, Maybury said. For example, Mount Pleasant received $3 million in mortgage tax revenues in 2005. The town board had budgeted $1 million in mortgage tax revenues for this year, but the final number is expected to be less than originally estimated.

Maybury said as difficult as it has been to create a 2013 budget, it could be even worse in future years. Unless the economy improves, the board would likely seek additional spending cuts, including the possibility of laying off police officers down the road, she said.


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