LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid village board passed a $5,794,056 budget Monday, June 30.
The 2014-15 budget has a tax levy of $3,579,620, a 1.56 percent increase over the current year, within the state-imposed tax cap. The budgets tax rate is $5.79 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, down 8 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation from the previous year. That means the owner of a building assessed at $200,000 will pay $1,158.
The village used $21,037 from the fund balance to offset tax increases. The fund balance reserve is currently at $3 million.
Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall said the final budget was tweaked in work sessions.
"I think there was more than 24 items at work sessions that were identified where adjustments were made," Randall said. "The net result of all that was a very slight reduction in the budget that was presented previously."
The village has a total of $16.7 million in debt. That number excludes about $3.5 million in expected debt from the sewer trunk line project now underway. The majority of the debt is from sewer projects, at $10 million; $3.3 million is water debt, and $2.6 million is general fund debt.
Water rates are not expected to increase. However, sewer rates could increase. Once the trunk sewer line project is completed, the board will reassess current sewer rates.
Fund balance motion
Village Trustee Scott Monroe and Jason Leon said the village should spend more money from the fund balance to lessen the tax burden for villagers.
"I think taxpayers should benefit in some way from the money spent out of the fund balance," Monroe said. "I think we should help the taxpayer a little more."
Randall said he understood where Monroe was coming from but the $21,037 being spent from the fund balance was appropriate, mainly because the village has to stay within the state tax cap and because of future capital expenses.
"Our fund balance is an interesting challenge," Randall said. "It represents right now approximately two months cash flow. Given the tax cap and where it's going in the future, if we increase the fund balance contribution, it's going to negatively drag the village in years ahead."
"I understand what you're saying," Monroe said. "I still think a certain percentage, we should try to give them something back each year. ... I'd like to make a motion to add $17,000 (extra from the fund balance) to the budget."
"I personally think this is an amazing budget, but I think that one piece Scott added makes it perfect," Leon said.
Leon seconded the motion, which was rejected by Randall and Trustees Art Devlin and Peter Holderied.
"I'm sticking with the direction Craig is headed," Devlin said.
"Me, too. Craig has put a lot of time and effort into this," Holderied added.
Randall said he voted no to the motion because the village has some capital expenditures in the near future. He also didn't rule out giving villagers a tax break in the future. The board then voted, approving the budget 4 to 1, with Monroe as the only no vote.
Some of the minor changes to the budget include adding $2,400 to the budget to prevent invasive species from spreading. Last year, the village spent $1,200 in the budget for the cleanup of a milfoil field in Paradox Bay in Lake Placid, Randall said. Two state bills intended to crack down on boaters who spread invasive species are currently awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo's approval, which was the motivation for the added funds in the budget.
"This money, I can't say for sure how we are going to use it, but I am confident we will be doing more," Randall said.
Other budget line funding that was reduced includes $5,000 for equipment repairs. The village secured a better phone agreement with its phone providers, dropping $1,000, and $3,500 was reduced for electricity in the village garage.
Copies of the approved budget are available in the village clerk's office at the North Elba Town Hall.