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Hancock budget approved

June 10, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

HANCOCK - Hancock Town Councilman Greg Yost wasn't at Wednesday night's Town Council meeting, but he made his displeasure about the town's new budget known in a letter.

The town's total budget of $1.29 million for fiscal year 2004-2005, which the Town Council approved Wednesday night, raises the property tax rate, water and sewer fees and the trailer tax.

Hancock Mayor Daniel A. Murphy said last month that increases in payroll and benefits and utility costs were among reasons for the tax and fee hikes.

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Town Manager Larry Logan read Yost's letter. Yost missed the meeting to attend his daughter's graduation.

"This is a sad day," Yost stated in the letter. "I am very disappointed in the mayor and council and very dissatisfied with this budget."

Yost said in the letter the council could have used money from the town's reserve funds to balance the budget, rather than raising taxes and fees. The reserve funds total at least $600,000, Yost wrote.

"Now what exactly are reserves? To me, that is money that has been set aside to cover any emergency that may arise," Yost wrote. "To others on this council, apparently it means money set aside and not to be touched."

Councilman David Smith said the Town Council used a combination of tax and fee increases and money from its reserves to balance the budget.

The budget shows the town transferred $15,444 from its general fund reserves.

The budget raises the property tax rate from .355 per $100 of assessed value to .395 per $100 of assessed value.

Water fees will increase from $21 to $25.50 for the first 6,000 gallons of water used and from $3.70 to $4.70 for each additional 1,000 gallons used quarterly, according to the budget.

Sewer fees will increase from $21 to $22.50 for the first 6,000 gallons of water and from $3.70 to $3.89 for each additional 1,000 gallons quarterly, the budget states.

Yost wrote that he lives "paycheck-to-paycheck, week-to-week," and that he deals with the frustration of that every day.

"It seems government continues to reach deeper and deeper into our pockets but I don't think the services provided are increasing or improving," he wrote.

"Yes, it is the first day since I have been elected to the council almost eight years ago that I regret being on the council," he wrote.

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