Trustees poised to adopt budget with zero tax increase

The Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees plans to adopt a budget in the coming weeks that carries a zero percent increase to the tax levy.

The tentative 2011-2012 budget, unveiled in March, proposed a 3.7 percent increase to the tax levy. But trustees promised to slash spending in order to keep taxes down.

And it appears that the board has done just that.

Village Manager John Sweeney said Wednesday that at the board's urging, he was able to draft a final budget with a zero percent increase to the tax levy.

That budget includes funding for civic organizations like the Saranac Lake Adult Center and the Saranac Lake Civic Center, although trustees plan to phase-out such spending beginning in the 2012-2013 budget.

Sweeney says the budget includes staffing reductions and layoffs, as well as cuts to equipment requests.

"The whole intent and purpose was to make sure these aren't reoccurring costs in the future, if that's what the board chooses to do," he said.

Cuts in the village budget include a paid driver at the fire department, a savings of about $71,300. The village is also cutting a part-time deputy treasurer, saving about $3,200.

A part-time clerk at the police department was removed from the budget as well, representing a savings of approximately $16,500. A public works laborer that cost the village approximately $44,800 was also cut.

Saranac Lake Village Police Chief Bruce Nason has said his department can absorb the proposed cut. Village Treasurer Paul Ellis says other staff will need to be trained to make up for the loss of a deputy treasurer.

At the village Department of Public Works, Superintendent Robert Martin has also said his crews can make up for the loss of a laborer.

But officials with the fire department are worried about the impending loss of a paid fire driver, which will leave them with just four.

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