LAKE PLACID - The village tax levy would increase 2.39 percent, coming in just below the state's property tax cap, under the tentative 2013-14 village budget.
Mayor Craig Randall delivered a presentation on the proposed budget at the Wednesday May 29 village board meeting. The board then scheduled a public hearing on the budget for 5:30 p.m. June 10 in the first floor meeting room of the North Elba Town Hall.
As it stands now, the tentative budget contains $5,764,139 in spending, an increase of $311,454, or 5.7 percent, over the current budget. Randall said the biggest increases are tied to employee benefit costs like retirement contributions and health insurance premiums, which are budgeted to increase 12 percent.
"These are the big items that we have no ability to control other than through our personnel and elimination of people," Randall said. "I'm frankly of the opinion that the village is pretty much at a point with our staffing that it would be difficult to make those kinds of adjustments and still perform the services the community expects to have performed."
The budget also includes employee raises of 2 percent, based on previously negotiated contracts.
The tax levy would be $3,524,595, an increase of $82,202, or 2.39 percent, and just $10 less than the maximum allowable tax levy for the village. The village is applying $62,416 in fund balance to help keep the tax levy under the cap.
The tax rate would increase from $5.74 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $5.96. That means the owner of a $200,000 home would pay $1,192, or $44 more, in taxes.
Randall noted that a third of the tax rate increase is tied to a loss of $7.8 million in the total assessed value of all property in the village, from $599 million to $591 million.
"From my conversations with our board of assessors, properties are selling in Lake Placid, but oftentimes they're selling for less than what the former assessed value was, and therefore the assessment roll is being reduced to reflect that," Randall said. "It's possible that's going to continue for a while longer. It does not make the job of creating a village budget and keeping the tax rate level very easy. It really is squeezing the amount of money that we have."
The village's utility budgets are either increasing slightly or decreasing. Spending in the water fund would rise from $1,508,427 to $1,522,200. The sewer fund would decrease from $2,550,000 to $2,401,000. The electric fund is set to drop from $8,976,400 to $8,847,200.
Randall said water conservation efforts continue to lead to decreased water and sewer revenues. He said this may be the last year the village can support the cost of operating the water and sewer departments without increasing those rates. The same may be true for the electric department, although any change to those rates requires approval of the New York Power Authority, Randall said.
The board will consider approving the budget at its June 24 meeting. It has to be adopted by July 1.
The mayor said the tentative budget will be posted on the village's website, villageoflakeplacid.ny.gov.