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Tupper Lake town passes budget below tax cap

Rise in assessed value contributes to easy budget year

TUPPER LAKE — The town’s 2021 budget that passed last month stays just below the tax levy cap, decreases the tax rate and increases spending by an average amount.

After a special meeting and public comment session on Oct. 29, the board voted unanimously to pass the $2,697,271 budget, funding town operations through the next year. This budget is set to spend around $50,000 (1.85%) more than last year.

The 2021 tax levy — the amount to be raised by taxes — is $1,945,434. The state capped the town’s tax levy at a 1.01% increase over this year, according to town Clerk Laurie Fuller. Town Supervisor Patti Littlefield said the levy was $6,000 below the tax cap. She said the budget could have easily surpassed it but fortunately stayed below due to an increase in the town’s total assessed property value.

Because the budget remains under the tax cap, the town did not need to pass a local law overriding the cap, which it does as a precautionary measure most years.

According to Littlefield, the town has never gone over the tax cap since the state launched it in 2011.

The rest of the budget is funded by user fees and other revenues totaling $541,837, as well as $210,000 appropriated from the town’s various fund balances, which collect unspent money each year.

The town tax rate is now $2.86 per $1,000 of assessed value for properties in the village of Tupper Lake and $4.15 per $1,000 for properties outside the village.

So if someone has a property assessed at $100,000 outside the village, the town will tax it $414.90 next year — a $4.40 decrease. If someone has a property assessed at $100,000 in the village, the town will tax it $285.90 — a $25.90 decrease.

This year the tax rate saw a minor decrease instead of the usual expected increase, decreasing by 26 cents per $1,000 for village properties and by 4 cents per $1,000 outside the village.

This is in part because of an increase in the town’s 2021 assessed value — a total increase of around $3.8 million, mostly outside the village — bringing the total assessed value of the town to nearly $469 million.

Littlefield said a decreasing tax rate is not unheard of but also not common.

Village police increase

At the request of village Mayor Paul Maroun, the town increased its budgeted payment to the village for its emergency police services by $4,000 this year, bringing the new annual payment to $30,500.

Maroun attended the first budget workshop session to make the request. He said, as with every department, police costs go up every year, but the amount the town contributes has not changed in around a decade.

The village spends between $1.1 million and $1.3 million a year on the police department, which also responds to calls in the town outside the village. Maroun said this is 47% of the total village budget.

Littlefield said this is not yet a done deal, since the one-year contract has not been signed, but she added that she anticipates it will be signed soon.

The town’s budgeted contribution to its fire protection agreement also increased $8,800 this year. Similarly, Littlefield said the town still has to approve the five-year contract but anticipates that will happen soon.

Both these increases are accounted for in the budget. The fire contract includes continued 2% increases from the town on alternating years.

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