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Budget passed, ski hill discussed

The Indian Lake town board passed a budget that increases the tax levy by 1.3 percent Nov. 10.

The Indian Lake town board passed a budget that increases the tax levy by 1.3 percent Nov. 10. Photo by John Grybos.

— The town's budget came in well under the tax cap, with a levy increase of 1.3 percent.

Pam Howard, the senior town clerk, cautioned the town board against staying too far under the tax cap.

“If you cut too close right now, the next board will need to go up 6 or 7 percent. That's not fair to them,” she said.

Town Supervisor Barry Hutchins agreed.

“The budgets that we're passing are not sustainable,” said Hutchins. “We're down to the bone.”

The town-wide tax rate will increase by slightly more than 1 percent per thousand.

One point of difficulty was dealing with the increasing cost of health insurance for town employees. Accommodating the same level of health insurance for town employees may not be a possibility in future budgets, said Hutchins.

“This is a very minimal change. I'm not sure how much longer we'll be able to do that,” he said.

The town's ski hill was the subject of much discussion, though the funding set aside for its operation was left alone for this budget cycle.

The hill has suffered from dropping numbers of young people attending ski lessons there, and the board worried that though the hill is a recreational and educational resource for the community, it's not self-sustaining at a time when budgets are tight at every level of government.

The hill was cited as a draw for families interested in moving to the area.

Councilwoman Sally Stanton said, “It'll be another dark spot in Indian Lake, and we don't need that right now.”

An idea is to increase the usage for the hill, including tubing or other snowsports, though that would require investment.

Hutchins said if the hill isn't expanded, there's no way to increase the market for it.

“It's no fault of anybody's. I know demographics have changed.”

Councilman John Rathbun said it's worth waiting another year to explore options.

“When we lose things, we don't get them back,” he said.

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