TUPPER LAKE - The village board didn't cut anything out of the budget during an extended workshop Wednesday morning. Instead, they added to it.
The initial budget includes a 28.8 percent hike in the tax levy, which is the amount of the budget that will be paid for through taxes, and a 9.9 percent spending increase.
But since the village's total property value increased due to the recent property revaluation, the tax rate will go down. That means people will pay less per $1,000 in assessed property value.
Tupper Lake Mayor Paul Maroun
(Enterprise file photo)
Village Mayor Paul Maroun has recommended to board members that they not decrease the levy too much, saying that keeping it higher this year will even out potential increases in future years.
During a workshop on the village Department of Public Works budget Wednesday morning, board members added $3,000 to the initial $45,000 budgeted for fuel for snow removal. The village didn't spend $45,000 this year, but village Clerk Mary Casagrain said board members wanted to plan around potential increases in fuel costs.
Board members also approved a request by village DPW Superintendent Mike Sparks to buy a mini-excavator.
Sparks argued that such a piece of equipment would be much safer and efficient than using the department's current machinery on projects like sidewalks. He said he has one storm drain that's been failing, but he's been putting off fixing it for five years because there's no good way to do it with the backhoe the department owns. He said he and his workers would likely use a mini-excavator three days a week during construction season.
Trustee Tom Snyder said taxpayers complain about the old one because it's not used during the winter, but Sparks said it's the same thing as having a lawnmower for the summer or a snowblower for the winter - some equipment is seasonal by its nature.
Sparks told them he got bids for different machines. A Bobcat dealer in Plattsburgh offered to sell him a new mini-excavator for $37,777. He was also offered a used 2004 Kubota for about $25,900.
The board decided that because the new machine would come with a warranty, which could make a big difference if there's an issue with the machine, they would purchase the new one.
That purchase was not included in the budget, and board members said they'll figure out later whether to include the full price of it in the budget or to take out a bond and pay it off slowly.
Trustee Rick Donah said that if the village is putting excess money into any area, he'd like it to be infrastructure.
"If we're putting money into infrastructure, fine with me," Donah said. "It's going to fix the sidewalks, the roads, the things we need to fix."
Some village officials had the idea of using one of the DPW's two part-time summer helpers to clean Park Street and other streets in the village. The idea came out of the Revitalization Committee after members of that group met with local real estate agents to assess what needs to be done to draw more people to the community, and the resounding answer was making the main streets look more attractive, said Casagrain, who has been involved with the Revitalization Committee.
But Sparks said it would be tough for him to give up one of the two people who keep the park clean and well-maintained throughout the summer.
"I don't want to lose my second park guy for that position. Those kids are busy," Sparks said. "That's a big area."
He listed the things those people do, including mowing the grass, which he said they do about three days a week, painting, maintenance, emptying garbage cans and cleaning.
He added that the town has inquired as to whether those workers can take on cleaning the town-owned boardwalk, which lines the park's waterfront, that used to be maintained by town Planner John Storrin before he died last summer.
Snyder and board member Leon LeBlanc agreed that the park workers are busy and said they don't think they should have duties added.
Donah said he's OK with leaving those two workers to Sparks, as long as they can find someone to do the job somewhere else in the village budget.
Snyder said a position will probably have to be added, since it's a new initiative.
"You've got to spend some money if you want something done," Snyder said.
The DPW workshop lasted nearly two hours, taking up almost the entire time officials had set aside to meet with almost all the department heads.
They met with Water/Wastewater Superintendent Mark Robillard briefly after the DPW workshop and didn't make any changes to the budgets for either the water or sewer budgets - the two have separate budgets because they are different utilities, but Robillard and his workers handle both. All of Robillard's expenses are fixed, Casagrain said.
They rescheduled a workshop on the electric department's budget for Monday, when board members will also look at the police and fire department budgets. Those meetings are scheduled to get under way at 6 p.m.
Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.