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Tupper Lake town budget is under cap

Budget includes raises for all but one town employee

November 5, 2012
By JESSICA COLLIER - Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

TUPPER LAKE - The town will hold a hearing on its 2013 budget on Thursday afternoon.

The current version of the budget would use $1.34 million in property taxes toward $1.98 million in total spending. That's a tax levy increase of about $17,000, or 1.3 percent, over the current year, keeping the town under the state's 2 percent tax cap.

Taxpayers inside the village would see an 8 cent increase in their tax rate, to $2.53 per $1,000 in assessed property value. Taxpayers outside the village would see a 1 cent increase to 45 cents.

Town Supervisor Roger Amell told the Enterprise Friday that original estimates miscalculated the budget as lower than current taxes.

"It threw everything off," Amell said.

Since it was recalculated, the town board took out a few expenses, like dropping the amount for legal help by $5,000, dropping the maintenance fund for town-owned buildings by $5,000 and figuring in insurance savings of $5,000.

The proposed 2013 budget uses $50,000 in reserve funding, less than the $75,000 the town put to use last year.

"We've got a pretty good budget," Amell said.



The budget includes 2 percent raises for all town employees except for the town board and Highway Superintendent Bill Dechene.

Amell originally said he wanted the town to add full eye and dental coverage to his health insurance, but he gave that up since first presenting the budget.

Dechene's salary was an issue before, in 2010 when he was elected over Amell to the highway superintendent job. Dechene won with 767 votes to Amell's 372.

Shortly after the election, the town board tried to break precedent and start Dechene at a lower salary than his predecessors: Mark "Hawkeye" Lavigne, who held the position for about a decade, and Rick Dattola, who was appointed interim superintendent for half a year before the election. After a public outcry at that year's budget hearing, though, the board gave him the full salary of his predecessors.

This year, Amell said it's related to Dechene's performance.

"He's not doing the performance of a working superintendent," Amell told the Enterprise Friday. "He's got to start doing more hands-on."

Amell said that at a Thursday budget workshop, only Councilwoman Patti Littlefield said Dechene deserved a raise.

He said Dechene didn't get a chance to weigh in on the issue at the workshop.

"He knew there was a public meeting and everything; nobody came," Amell said. "Things are tight and everything, so we've got to cut where we can cut. Well, we're not cutting; we just didn't give."

Dechene said in a written statement that he was shocked to hear about Amell's comments on his job performance.

"I have always tried to maintain communication and a good working relationship with Roger," Dechene wrote. "The job I am doing, or lack thereof, has never been brought to my attention before by Roger. I have received positive feedback from town board members, past and present, as well as from the people who elected me."

Dechene said he does hands-on work every day. He said he would have preferred if Amell came to him with questions or concerns rather than learning of them through the press.

"Regardless of Roger's opinion, I will continue to do my job and my part in maintaining communication and a working relationship with the board," Dechene wrote.



The hearing will be at 4 p.m. Thursday in the lower level of the town hall. A full board meeting will follow the hearing. The board usually holds its regular monthly meeting on the second Monday of the month, but that's Veterans Day this month.

The public can review a copy of the budget at the town offices.



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