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Adult Center could get village axe

SARANAC LAKE-A proposal to discontinue funding for a senior citizens' organization dominated the discourse at Monday night's public hearing on the tentative Saranac Lake Village Budget for 2011-2012.

In its current form, the budget features $4.8 million in general fund expenditures and carries a 3.7 percent increase to the tax levy. Trustees, however, say they plan to whittle that down to a zero percent increase.

The preliminary budget plan aims to cut $5,000 in funding for the Saranac Lake Adult Center, which represents the total village contribution to the organization in last year's budget.

Other civic groups, like the Saranac Lake Civic Center and the Robert Louis Stevenson Society, would also lose funding under the current proposal.

Village officials said funding for the adult center represents the kind of double-taxation that needs to stop. Opponents of the plan say the funding supports one of the community's most important resources.

Treasurer Paul Ellis began the hearing by outlining the village's policy on ending double-taxation. Ellis noted that the towns of Harrietstown, North Elba, and St. Armand contribute more than $20,000 to the Adult Center.

"All of these contributions come from the general fund tax base, meaning that the village residents pay their share of these contributions through their town's tax base," he said. "Should the village continue to contribute on its own, and not through the underlying towns, it will be double-taxing its taxpayers. No other municipality double-taxes its taxpayers for the support of the adult center - only Saranac Lake taxpayers are double-taxed for their support of the Adult Center."

But taxpayers in attendance, like Alton Beideck of Saranac Lake, disagreed. He blasted the board for its decision to leave out Adult Center funding.

"I think you're probably the only board that is going on record in Franklin County - maybe in the whole North Country - for not supporting an Adult Center; it's going to be a great honor for you, I know," he said, with more than a hint of sarcasm.

Gina Norton is director of the Saranac Lake Adult Center. She said the organization represents those individuals who are most in need of assistance.

"These seniors worry each day how to pay their bills, pay for food, and be able to continue to afford to remain in their homes," Norton said.

According to Norton, 300 seniors belong to the Adult Center - 75-percent in the village.

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