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Lake George Village approves frugal budget

Workmen excavate the sidewalk March 26  on Canada St. in front of Shepard Park in Lake George as part of a streetscape reconstruction effort now underway. The project, which calls for new sidewalks, benches and plantings similar to the other side of the roadway, is expected to be finished in several months, according to the Rich Spoto of Woodchips Carpentry, the construction firm conducting the work. Monday night, the village board approved borrowing $563,000 for one year to bankroll the project.

Workmen excavate the sidewalk March 26 on Canada St. in front of Shepard Park in Lake George as part of a streetscape reconstruction effort now underway. The project, which calls for new sidewalks, benches and plantings similar to the other side of the roadway, is expected to be finished in several months, according to the Rich Spoto of Woodchips Carpentry, the construction firm conducting the work. Monday night, the village board approved borrowing $563,000 for one year to bankroll the project. Photo by Thom Randall.

— The high price of curbside parking in Lake George has a payoff for local taxpayers.

Parking fees and other revenues collected by the village government, now paying a substantial portion of the municipality’s operating costs, has enabled the village to avoid a tax increase, Mayor Robert Blais said this week.

Monday March 26, Lake George Village Board approved a 2012-13 budget that reduces spending and holds the tax rate flat while paying higher costs for health care and retirement.

The budget calls for expenditures of $4.07 million, offset by $2.52 million in revenues and an unexpended balance of $240,000 —leaving $1.3 million to be raised by taxes.

The estimated 2012-13 tax rate, $8,48 per thousand of assessed valuation, remains the same as the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Estimated 2012-13 village parking meter receipts of $545,000 — plus an expected $525,000 local share of sales tax revenues — provide a lion’s share of the expenses of providing services in the village, Blais said.

“This is a tremendous budget,” Blais said, noting that virtually every village department spent less than budgeted in 2011-12.

Blais gave special credit to village Clerk-Treasurer Darlene Gunther and Public Works Superintendent Dave Harrington for cutting governmental costs, allowing savings to pay for expenses in the upcoming year.

“It’s another good year for Lake George Village taxpayers,” he said, noting the municipality has averaged a mere 1.5 percent increase in taxes annually over the past five years.

The budgeted flat tax rate was achieved despite a $22,000 increase in employee retirement costs and an additional $33,000 or so in health care premiums for 2012-13, he said.

Despite a 50-cent pay raise allocated for village employees — which Blais said was needed to keep their pay competitive — the Village was still able to set aside money in a capital reserve fund.

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