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In Saranac Lake, tentative budget shows tax increase

The tentative 2011-2012 budget for the village of Saranac Lake shows taxes increasing by some 3.7 percent.

Village Manager John Sweeney filed paperwork for next year's fiscal plan late last week. Under village law, trustees can adopt the tentative budget as is or make further cuts through board action.

Sweeney says numerous economic trends had to be taken into account in drafting the upcoming budget, which features $4.8 million in expenditures.

That an increase of seven percent, or about $314,000, over the current year's budget. $3.4 million of the budget would be raised by taxes as opposed to $3.2 million in the current year, amounting to a tax levy increase of 3.7 percent.

Sweeney told trustees that federal stimulus efforts have stabilized the economy, but have not resulted in any subsequent growth. He notes that the village is only experiencing "limited growth" in revenue.

According to Sweeney, health insurance and retirement costs are responsible for significant increases in general, sewer, and water fund expenditures.

For example, Sweeney notes that a 16 percent increase in health insurance costs is likely in the next two years. Retirement costs will increase by about 24 percent, Sweeney says.

Mayor Clyde Rabideau says department heads and the village manager made a "hard effort" to reduce costs as much as possible.

"Now it falls into the laps of the trustees and me to possibly find other savings," he said. "And that's our goal - we want to have a zero percent increase in the tax rate."

Both Sweeney and Rabideau note that a decrease in taxable values in the town of Harrietstown is impacting tax rates in the village's general fund.

According to Sweeney, Harrietstown's equalization rate has changed from 86 percent to 100 percent. Rabideau says that shifts the tax burden from Harrietstown to the towns of St. Armand and North Elba.

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