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2018-10-10 / Front Page

Franklin Town Discusses Preliminary Budget, Reassessment

By Rosie Cunningham

FRANKLIN - Franklin deputy financial officer Paul Warner presented the preliminary budget at the Oct. 2 town board meeting.

There will be a 2.4 percent increase totaling $1,193,385 rise in the budget.

“Just under the tax cap,” said Warner.

The deputy financial officer outlined items in the preliminary budget that have changed from last year which includes employee services, independent auditing, board of assessment, contractual increases, insurance increases and equipment, to name a few. Warner said the information can be found in the town clerk’s office.

Nine-year town justice Gary Arndt said he is “upset” with his $500 raise outlined in the budget.

“It’s meager,” said Arndt. “Times have changed and there is a lot of responsibility that goes along with the job. It’s not fair - you should see what I do in court. At least look at the other towns and villages who make quite a bit more than me.”

Arndt said he believes $7,500 would be adequate.

Franklin Town Supervisor Jeffrey Taggart said he and Warner came up with the increase and he stood by the raise and said that is what the town can handle financially.

Arndt added that the building he practices out of is poorly maintained, both inside and outside and the temperature during the winter is cold. He said some of the complaints are brought up to him by the general public and those who frequent the court, such as lawyers.

He also advised the board to consider better signage and think about “having more pride in our town.”

Amanda Groff, representing the Franklin Recreation Commission, said next summer there will be a youth bureau position which could help maintain the property and do work.

“It’s only an eight-week time frame but we are more than willing to help,” she said.

After further discussion, the board approved the preliminary budget.

Town Assessor James Basile recommended the need for reappraisal for residential properties in the town of Franklin.

According to Basile, the last appraisal took place in 2005.

“Since, we have gone through reassessment, which is not the same as re-appraisal,” said Basile.

He said a re-appraisal refers to looking at each parcel individually and determining the value of that parcel.

“The reason for re-appraisal is for assessments to be at the same percentage of value - everyone needs to be at the same percent,” he said. “We test that by a sale ratio study. We look at what a property sells for, what the property is assessed for, what the relationship is between those two numbers, and does a relationship exist for all properties.”

Basile referred to graphs and said it is important to determine trends and look at residential sales.

Basile did point out that last year there was a spike in the number of residential sales and the average sale price for 2014, 2015 and 2016 is $150,000.

“The level of assessment is decreasing and we’ve seen that in the equalization rate,” he said. “What needs to happen in assessment is to get back to fair market value.”

Basile said higher priced residential properties have tended to be assessed at a lower percentage of market value, as more higher priced residential properties sell, the dispersion within the residential ratios increase. Increased dispersion indicates lack of uniformity and we need to supplement the residential study with a similar study for vacant land.

Basile and Taggart agreed that there is a need for re-appraisal in the near future. Basile added that he believes an appraisal each year would not be beneficial and said the board should decide on a frequency or gauge when re-assessment of residential properties should occur.

In other business, highway superintendent Mark Laing said the town crew is currently hauling sand and doing “rainy day stuff.”

He discussed purchasing a brush tractor with a boom and the mower and parts. He priced one tractor and equipment.

“It’s very well maintained,” said Laing, who did research regarding the matter.

“The tractor is figured to be about $35,000 to $40,000,” he said. “The equipment is about $70,000 to $75,000.”

The Franklin Town board meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m.

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