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SL trustees mull layoffs, equipment purchases

Trustees in Saranac Lake are considering several cuts that would zero-out a potential increase to the tax levy in the 2011-2012 village budget.

During a work session Thursday evening, village Manager John Sweeney presented some potential personnel cuts to the board.

According to Sweeney, eliminating one position from four different village departments - as well as cutting purchase requests for a number of vehicles - would give the budget a zero percent tax increase.

The four positions being considered for elimination are a paid driver at the fire department, a deputy treasurer in the village's administrative offices, a part-time clerk at the police department, and a laborer at the village Department of Public Works.

For the moment, the proposed layoffs are talking points, trustees said, as no decisions have been made.

Rick Yorkey from the fire department told trustees that cutting a fire driver would be tough.

"Right now, I think we need five," he said.

Some trustees, like Jeff Branch, said making a decision about fire personnel was hard without knowing the status of dispatching and the exact future of the rescue squad, which may or may not move out of the fire station on Broadway.

Sweeney said the village could cut the deputy treasurer, so long as other staff members received the adequate training to make up for the increased workload.

At the police department, Chief Bruce Nason said he could take measures to reduce the negative effects of losing a part-time clerk. He notes that new, high-tech equipment being installed in police cruisers will make up for some of that shortfall. That equipment is being purchased with federal drug and asset seizure funds.

At the public works department, losing a laborer wouldn't be devastating. That's according to Assistant Superintendent Kevin Pratt.

Pratt says the department's superintendent, Robert Martin, is more concerned with having qualified drivers and heavy equipment operators who can also perform labor duties if need be.

John Sweeney says his proposed cuts accomplish what Trustee John McEneany had asked for - that is, they make physical changes without affecting the village's ability to function.

Trustees said personnel cuts have a long-lasting impact on the budget and restructure the way the village does business.

Sweeney also told trustees that he cut several equipment purchases, including a snowmobile, an all-terrain vehicle, and at least one vehicle at the DPW.

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