Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Steve Huffman
Salisbury Post
SPENCER ó Residents will likely see a 2-cent increase in their tax rate if a budget proposed by Town Board members is approved.
During a budget work session held earlier this week, board members tentatively approved upping the town’s tax rate from 58 cents to 60 cents per $100 valuation.
The budget totals slightly more than $2 million.
If approved, the owner of a house valued at $100,000 would pay $600 in taxes. The tax increase would be the first for town residents since the 2002/2003 fiscal year.
It will also come on top of a recently completed county revaluation where most homeowners witnessed an increase in the values of their properties.
A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. on June 12 in Town Hall.
Despite the revaluation and proposed tax increase, Mayor Alicia Bean said Spencer’s budget is a hold-the-line one.
“There’s no extras in there, just the basic stuff,” she said. “Even at 60 cents, we’re just standing still.”
Bean said that even with a 2-cent tax increase, the town is still expected to dip into its fund balance to the tune of $51,000. If the tax rate had remained steady, the town was expected to have to pull almost $91,000 from the fund balance.
“We just didn’t feel that was wise,” Bean said.
She said the major increases on the proposed budget include a 13.2 percent hike in the cost of health insurance for town employees and their families.The town has also budgeted for the first payment on the purchase of a new fire engine. The truck is expected to cost about $425,000. If the budget is approved, the town will solicit for bids for the new truck. The plan is to finance the truck for 10 years at $54,144 a year.
Bean said a new fire truck is essential to maintaining the town’s current insurance rating. She said that should a new truck not be purchased, insurance rates will likely increase by about $120 per year per homeowner.
Town Manager Larry Smith agreed that a new fire engine is essential to the town maintaining its current insurance rating. He said that the last time the town bought a fire engine was 1995.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or shuffman