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Potsdam sets budget, prepares for recreation takeover

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POTSDAM — The Town Council on Thursday finalized its 2014 budget and set a deal that may lead to the town’s eventual takeover of the Potsdam recreation program.

The budget remained unchanged from the tentative version approved last month. Taxes have dropped in every category, with the town counting on sales tax revenue to make up the difference.

The total spending plan, passed unanimously, adds up to just under $3.5 million.

Board members later discussed a memorandum of understanding with the village, a document that outlines each municipality’s responsibilities in the event that the town takes over the recreation program.

The village Board of Trustees already accepted the agreement on Monday, and the town board unanimously followed suit, approving the measure as long as it remains unchanged from the version they originally drafted.

The cost for the recreation program has long been split between the two municipalities. The village board voted in June to drop support for the program, leaving the responsibility to the town, which expects to take it over at the start of 2015. This would result in the creation of a special taxing district that includes all town properties outside the village of Norwood, and a tax hike for those living within it.

“Our hope is that in the next few weeks we will find out how much it’s going to be per $1,000,” said town Supervisor Marie C. Regan.

She said early estimates indicate a property tax increase of about $.80 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The memorandum states that the village will pay the benefits of the recreation employees who already have retired, and the municipalities will split the cost of benefits for current Recreation Director Timothy W. Carey.

The village will turn over all land and equipment associated with the program to the town for $1, while the town will be responsible for paying off the remainder of a $675,000 bond that was issued in 2010 for repairs to the arena.

Before the takeover takes effect, town residents will have the chance to petition against it. If a petition gathers 140 signatures, the issue will go up for a vote in a town-wide referendum.

In other business, the town board plans to bring a bit of history back to downtown with the installation of a clock on the court at 35 Market St. A clock once hung from the front of the building decades ago, when the site served as the town hall.

The town will pay about $8,000 to hang a clock there once again, now that extensive renovations to the building are complete.

“That would be the last thing to make it as historically accurate as possible, and I think it would make it look a little nicer,” Ms. Regan said.

The board also passed a resolution condemning the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which removed many restrictions on campaign spending. The board’s decision came at the behest of several Potsdam residents.

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