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Richmond passes 12% tax hike; board member says it could have been avoided

The Town of Richmond has increased taxes in an attempt to raise funds for highway projects and costs associated with new equipment.

Homeowners are bracing for the increase after the 3-2 vote this week.

According to officials it will generate $111,000 for the Town.

Of the money generated, $100,000 will go into the Highway Equipment Reserve Fund to replace aging equipment while the rest will go to the park reserve to replace the roof at the Sandy Bottom Bath House.

A home assessed at $103,000 will see an increase of $34 on their annual tax bill.

Richmond Town Supervisor Caroline Sauers says the increase “will be saving taxpayers the costs and interest associated with financing highway equipment and highway projects.”

Families can still be eligible for the STAR rebate which is tied to the school district tax cap but if the town exceeds the state’s two percent tax cap, families will be disqualified for a state rebate check.

Councilor Steve Barnhoorn said that the Town could have met at the two percent cap. “In my opinion, and speaking only for myself, based on the information we reviewed throughout the budget process, it didn’t make sense to raise taxes when you underestimate revenue projections like sales tax and the mortgage tax, and we have adequate reserves,” he explained. “While I want to see progress made in our town, our primary responsibility needs to be balanced by those folks who are on fixed incomes. And we have a large segment of the population who fall into that category. That was the basis of my vote against approving the 2019 town budget.”

Voting for the proposed budget were Sauers, Councilmembers David Violas and Amy Linehan. Opposing the proposal were Councilmembers Barnhoorn and Daryl Marshall.

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