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Saranac Lake trustee candidates square off in forum

Four make pitch for votes in March 20 election

Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees candidates Mark Gillis, Paul Van Cott, Barbara Rice and Jeff Branch at the Meet the Candidates Forum at the Harrietstown Town Hall March 12.

Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees candidates Mark Gillis, Paul Van Cott, Barbara Rice and Jeff Branch at the Meet the Candidates Forum at the Harrietstown Town Hall March 12. Photo by Daniel E. Alexander.

— Barbara Rice said there a lot of organizations that deserve to be funded, but the village needs to look at what’s fair and equitable.

“Is it fair for some village residents to be paying for a civic organization that is certainly deserving twice while another village resident may not be paying?” Rice said. “What I think can be done is work with the town to figure out ways that we can disperse these costs equitably.”

Jeff Branch said this example is definitely double taxation.

“The question really is, the groups like the Adult Center, the Winter Carnival Committee, the Civic Center, places like that, they depend on the money, and if we take that money away, who’s going to suffer?” Branch said. “It’s not going to be the village board. A lot of these organizations are the seniors and kids, and the seniors and the kids are the ones that are going to suffer.”

Still, Branch said the village must do something about double taxation and work with the towns to figure out how to divide that up.

Mark Gillis said he agrees that the village should work with the towns to come to some kind of resolution so everyone can pay their fair share.

“When we look at the Adult Center, look at the Youth Center, look at the Civic Center, the skating facility, the services that they provide the village are very important,” Gillis said.

He was recently having lunch at a local restaurant and ran into a family from out of town.

“The reason why they’re there? Their kids are playing hockey over at the Civic Center,” Gillis said. “So I think that it’s important that those services are maintained because they give back to the village in many other ways.”

Paul Van Cott said there are two issues in regard to this question: whether the village should be investing in the civic organizations and finding ways to solve double taxation.

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