By RUBY RAYNER-HASELKORN
ELDRED, NY — The Town of Highland’s budget for 2024 kept taxes flat, and in some cases slightly reduced, …
ELDRED, NY — The Town of Highland’s budget for 2024 kept taxes flat, and in some cases slightly reduced, despite an increase in insurance costs and a 3 percent increase in town salaries.
Town clerk Susan Hoffman said this is the fourth consecutive year that town employees’ salaries have increased by 3 percent.
Spending in the budget, which passed on November 14, increased by 1.4 percent. But town revenue has also increased to cover the shortfall.
“This board for the last six years has almost identically matched the rate of growth of the town of the rate of growth of the budget,” said supervisor Jeff Haas. “The rate of growth is just shy of 2 percent, and we put forward a budget of 1.47 percent.”
The town board also agreed to a modified agreement with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office for an additional term extending through December 31, 2024. The agreement will be made public when the county signs off on it, the board said.
Highland had a constabulary until April 2022, when the town board disbanded the force. The town then entered into a contract with the sheriff’s office to replace the constables’ services. The 2024 budget sets a maximum of $100,000 for these services.
The town was billed $38,000 for the first six months of service from the sheriff’s office, less than the $50,000 budgeted for. The town has yet to receive its next bill from the the county.
One of the board’s stated reasons for replacing the constables with sheriff’s deputies was cost. For a full cost comparison of the two services, see this week's related article, "Disputing the costs of protection."
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