Lake George Village Approves $5.2 Million Budget
The Lake George Village Board has approved a roughly $5.2 million budget for 2015-16 on April 6. The new budget is up nearly $800,000 or 17.9 percent from this year, but with no rise in taxes.
Most of the increased spending, $477,000, is to pay off debt with money from the capital fund. An 11 percent hike in health insurance premiums was another major expense.
However, Mayor Robert Blais said he’s extremely pleased with the village’s fiscal condition, which he said ranks high compared to other villages across the state.
“The budget calls for no increase for the third year in a row in the tax rate, which remains at $6.04 per $1,000 of assessed valuation,” he said at Monday’s board meeting. “We received an excellent bond rating this year, Also, the state comptroller’s office reported that we have a fiscally stable budget.”
Blais praised department heads, Clerk-Treasurer Darlene Gunther, Purchasing Agent Debra McKinney and village trustees for striving to hold down spending and trim expenses wherever possible.
Ten years ago, when assessed value in the village totaled $155 million, the tax rate was $7.55 per $1,000. That rate has declined as overall property values have increased.
Despite current favorable conditions, Blais reminded trustees that Lake George has a major financial challenge on the horizon, an anticipated wastewater treatment plant upgrade that might cost from $8 million to $11 million. Protecting Lake George water quality is one of the primary reasons for doing the project.
However, the recently-adopted state budget includes funding for North Country infrastructure, and state officials recognize the importance of Lake George as a major driver in the region’s tourism and recreation industries.
“We are going to do everything we can to so seek grants, to seek federal and state funds,” the mayor said. “Certainly our lake is important to the economy of upstate New York. We’re going to work to try to protect it.”
While concerned about the treatment plant’s cost, Blais said that a variety of economic development enhancements are expected to generate extra tax revenue to offset the plant’s price tag. Developer David Kenny’s new Courtyard Marriott on Canada Street is expected to cost an estimated $25 million.
“That could pay a tremendous amount of debt service for our new wastewater treatment plant,” Blais said.
The village should start getting taxes from the new hotel two or three years from now, coinciding with the treatment plant’s upgrade. Other projects such as Adirondack Pub & Brewery owner John Carr’s new distillery, developer David Mentor’s overhaul of Scotty’s Motel, and renovations at Surfside on the Lake on Canada Street, should also increase the village’s tax base, providing additional funding for the treatment plant, Blais said.
The village’s fiscal year runs from June 1 to May 31.
When preparing the budget, village officials used $580,000 in surplus funds to balance the spending plan and prevent the need for increased taxes. This is $180,000 or 45 percent more than the amount of fund balance used in 2014-15.
The amount to be raised by taxes is slightly more than $1.3 million, an 0.33 percent rise over this year.
Projected revenues total $2.85 million, up $132,512 or 4.9 percent from this year. In other action, the board set annual village spring cleanup days for April 25 to May 10. Yard waste, small branches and items that can be handled by one employee may be placed curb side.
Plastic bags are not allowed and no loose yard waste will be picked up after May 10. Yard waste in brown paper bags will be picked up throughout the spring, summer and fall months. For information call 668-5771.
Also, the board approved the hiring of Kathleen Erceg as a part-time account clerk in the code enforcement office, at a rate of $15 per hour. She replaces Carol Sullivan who has retired.
Erceg will assist Code Enforcement Officer Doug Frost, who also works for the town.
Blais said the village has agreed to a memorandum of understanding with the Warren County Soil & Water Conservation District for a storm water improvement job at Exit 22 of the Northway. The agreement allows the village to give the district money for supplies and materials, and get reimbursed at a later time when the district receives funding from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.