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Lake Placid board adopts budget with flat tax levy

LAKE PLACID — The village Board of Trustees adopted a budget for 2020-21 last week that carries a slight tax decrease.

The village initially proposed a preliminary budget that carried a slight tax increase, with the municipality planning to levy, or collect, $3,923,351 from village taxpayers in the next fiscal year. That would’ve meant a tax levy increase of 1.9%.

Though the village received no direct public feedback on the budget this year, village officials ultimately took another look at the numbers, and after shifting some expenses to different fiscal years and moving funds around, they came back with a proposed budget that carried a $3,846,423 tax levy, zero change from the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Property owners who reside in the village will now see a 1.2% decline in their tax rate in the next fiscal year, from $5.66 to $5.59 per $1,000 in assessed property value. For a person whose home is assessed at $200,000, this means a tax decrease of roughly $14.

That tax decline may appear to be less for some property owners because assessed values in the village have risen. Between 3,532 pieces of property within village limits, the total taxable value rose to $687,905,885 in the 2020 tax rolls, up from $678,553,110 between 3,531 properties in 2019.

The coronavirus pandemic has had widespread impacts on the local economy. For the village, much of the impact so far has come in the form of less water, sewer and electric usage. Most local hotels have either been closed for months or have limited occupancy to essential workers only, and that unexpected decline in utility use has meant less revenue for the village. So far, most of that revenue loss is expected to hit the current fiscal year, which ends in July for the village, rather than the next fiscal year.

At a special meeting of the village board on June 30, Mayor Craig Randall acknowledged that how exactly the village’s revenue will pan out in the next fiscal year is unclear.

“This is an uncertain year in the sense that some of the revenue worked on by (Treasurer) Mindy (Goddeau’s) office and the mayor’s office are literally our best guess,” he said. “There’s no way of predicting what this summer is going to do.”

Because of the pandemic, the village has projected a loss in parking meter revenue next year and some decline in revenue from utility use. Randall said the village also plans to defer spending on capital projects over $50,000 — including the purchase of a new dump truck — until near the end of the year, just to make sure the village does have funds available.

The village plans to spend $92,684 more in the next fiscal year than in the current fiscal year. Total expenditures are projected at $6,611,966, with more than half of that paid for by property taxes. The village is planning to use $575,000 from its reserves.

The village has a healthy fund balance, with around $6 million in reserves, Goddeau said last month. That’s up from around $4.5 million last year. Part of that has been earmarked for upcoming infrastructure projects, such as a parking structure — if the construction of one is approved by the village board.

The village board of trustees adopted the 2020-21 budget unanimously.

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