The Perryville mayor and town commissioners unanimously approved the town's $7.4 million budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year Tuesday night.
The fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2015.
The budget comes with a decrease in the property tax rate, from 31.36 cents per $100 of assessed value for the 2014 fiscal year, to 31.30 cents per $100 of value for FY2015.
It is the fifth decrease of the real property tax, a fact one commissioner highlighted before the vote.
"We did lower the tax rate for the fifth time, and we balanced the budget," Commissioner Michelle Linkey said.
Mayor James Eberhardt also expressed his appreciation to town staffers and department heads who worked to put the budget together.
"It was hard work," he said.
The FY2015 personal property tax rate will be 94 cents per $100 of assessed value, which is the same as the current fiscal year, according to the minutes from the May 7, 2013 commissioners' meeting.
The homestead property credit rate remains the same at 110 percent.
Town Administrator Denise Breder explained Wednesday that the homestead tax credit is a statewide credit that homeowners who live in their homes – rather than renting them to a tenant – can apply for.
Each municipality and county sets its own rate, and Perryville homeowners who qualify would see their property tax go no higher than 10 percent of the previous year's bill, Breder explained.
Breder also provided figures Wednesday that showed the real property tax rate decrease for the 2015 fiscal year would be the sixth decrease in that rate since 2005, when the rate was .376 cents per $100 of value, what she called a "pattern" established by the members of the town board to keep the tax rate low and reduce costs.
She estimated the tax bill for a house valued at $200,000 would decrease by slightly more than $1 for FY2015.
Breder said town officials work to reduce costs in the general fund to offset the decrease in tax revenue; recent measures include taking bids from outside vendors to handle trash removal, locking in an affordable electricity rate for town facilities through a recent auction involving the state and power suppliers and looking for "the best possible deal" on employee health insurance.
The town commissioners approved water and sewer rates for FY2015 in February. The rates, which are an average of 4 percent higher than the current rates, will take affect July 1, and customers will see the increase in their quarterly bills in October, Breder explained.
The rates have been published in the town's newsletter for spring and summer; the water rate includes a total base payment of $37.92 and $8.13 for every 1,000 gallons more than the minimum use of 3,000 gallons.
The sewer rate has a total base payment of $32.71 and $6.40 for every additional 1,000 gallons.
Breder noted Local Impact funds, which are paid by the operators of Hollywood Casino at Perryville, have been used to help offset debt service in the water and sewer funds – Local Impact funds will cover $265,500 worth of $501,415 in water debt and $187,500 worth of $416,183 in sewer debt.
New health plan approved
The commissioners also unanimously approved a new employee health plan Tuesday, one that came with the lowest increase in premiums.
Town officials had four options to choose from, including the current plan, and they decided on the second option, a preferred provider organization plan through Coventry Health Care.
The Coventry PPO plan comes with a 10 percent increase in premiums, Administrative Supervisor Cathy McCardell told the mayor and commissioners.
The current plan, which is through United Health Care, would have a 25 percent increase in premiums next year; the Coventry "Super Joe" PPO would have a 35 percent increase.
A United Health Care plan with no deductible would come with a 94 percent increase, according to an information sheet provided by McCardell.