POTSDAM Plans for a town referendum on forming a recreation district have been delayed because of an overlooked state regulation, and now a vote cannot be held until mid-April at the earliest.
The Town Council intended to set a date during a special meeting Tuesday, when about 15 residents gathered in the town hall to ask questions and voice their opinions about the plan.
The plan calls for the creation of a special taxing district which would include all town and village of Potsdam property except the village of Norwood. Norwood would not be included because it runs its own recreation program.
State law mandates that the village of Potsdam must approve the creation of such a district, a rule unknown by the town or the village until recently.
The villages Board of Trustees passed a resolution approving the district Monday, but village residents have 30 days to present a petition opposing the resolution. If that happens, the village will have to schedule a referendum.
The town will hold its own referendum, which would include all residents inside the proposed district, but this will have to be delayed until the fate of a village petition is known. If the villages resolution does go to a vote, the town and village will be allowed to hold their votes concurrently.
It is unlikely that village residents will move to strike down the resolution, according to Town Supervisor Marie C. Regan, because their taxes will probably go down overall if the village drops support for recreation and a special district is created as is planned.
Town residents living outside the village would pay 70 to 80 cents more in taxes per $1,000 of assessed property value if the district is created.
This increase did not sit well with some town residents at Tuesdays meeting.
It doesnt seem like a fair tax for what its trying to accomplish, said Jon R. Greenwood, Potsdam resident and president of the St. Lawrence County Farm Bureau.
Mr. Greenwoods large dairy farm is very close to the border of Canton. His family does not use Potsdams recreation facilities, he said, and because he owns so much land his tax increase would be significant.
I have a Canton address, our kids go to the Canton school, I am a Canton resident beyond where I pay my taxes, he said.
Others wanted to know how many of the children who use the beach or arena are from the village and how many come from the town outside. These numbers were not available, because a survey has not been done in years, according to Mayor Steven W. Yurgartis, who was in attendance.
With the future of the program in doubt, people asked what would happen if things do not go according to plan.
If the result of the referendum is a no, what would happen to recreation? asked Potsdam resident Betty Grant.
The ball would then be in the villages court, Ms. Regan said.
The village would have to decide if they are firm in their conviction that they wont run the district any more, she said.
However, Ms. Regan said she sees the towns takeover of the program as an important, positive step.
I can see very strong reasons to do this. Rec is important, she said.
With a vote delayed, the town decided to hold a second public hearing in hopes of soliciting more feedback. The second meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 4.
A vote will happen no earlier than April 10.