LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid village Board of Trustees hasn't made any changes to its tentative 2012-13 budget, and few concerns have been raised by taxpayers so far.
The board held a public hearing on the proposed spending plan earlier this week. Mayor Craig Randall said the two issues that came up focused on his decision not to purchase a new police patrol car, and funds spent on the village's trolley service.
The tentative budget would meet the state's 2 percent property tax cap, increasing the tax levy by 1.68 percent, or about $56,000, over the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. Total spending would increase by 0.75 percent - about $38,000 - to approximately $5.4 million.
Randall said former village police Chief Scott Monroe, who retired last year and was replaced by Bill Moore, was concerned about not purchasing a new patrol vehicle for the police department's fleet.
"I pointed out that we have a vehicle authorized for purchase in this year's budget," Randall told the Enterprise. "If the board agrees to do it, I'll probably do a bond financing for highway equipment, and at that point in time I'll revisit the police car."
Randall said he left the cruiser, as well as several other items, out of the budget to keep the tax levy as low as possible.
Monroe told the Enterprise the department is going on four years without replacing a patrol car. He said a five-year bond for a new car wouldn't be effective, because the normal lifespan for a police vehicle is four years. He also said there should be STOP-DWI funds available to help pay for a new vehicle.
The tentative budget has some wiggle room under the tax cap. Randall said that was an intentional move on his part because the village is still waiting for is final property assessment rolls to be released.
"Things happen with grievances sometimes," he said.
The public hearing also featured questions about the village's trolley service, which the village funds at an expense of about $150,000. The rest of the funds come from state and federal sources.
"Some people appreciate that service, while others see it as an expense that might be better used in a different way," Randall said.
The Placid Xpress operation averages about 3,000 riders per month throughout the year, Randall said, although that figure increases dramatically in the summer to between 15,000 and 18,000 monthly, depending on tourism volume. The service primarily operates within the village, although it does make trips to the Price Chopper supermarket and the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex, both of which are just outside the village in the town of North Elba.
The town does provide the trolley some financial support, Randall said.
Monroe said when the trolley service was first introduced, it was funded almost entirely by grants.
"Now, it's costing taxpayers money to have the system," he said. "It's getting to the point where it's almost too much."
He said trustees will consider concerns about the service's expense in the coming months.
"It is something we are looking at," Randall said. "There are core groups of local ridership that depend upon it. The Greenwood Apartment folks use it to get to grocery stores, doctors' appointments - for them it's a vital service. And obviously, in the summertime, it's used a lot."
The budget must be adopted by July 1.