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Levy rises but tax rate falls in proposed Potsdam village budget

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POTSDAM - The tentative 2014-2015 village budget would lower the tax rate by 4.6 percent, but this may not translate to lower taxes for all property owners.

Last year’s townwide property value revaluation increased the total value of village properties, meaning the tax rate has dropped even though the village plans to raise more tax revenue overall.

“Depending on what happened with each individual, some people are going to pay less, some people may pay about the same, and other people will pay more,” Village Administrator David H. Fenton said.

“It’s going to be kind of a funny year,” he said.

The proposed $9.56 million budget contains few surprises, with no major cuts or new expenses expected over the coming year. It is up slightly from the current fiscal year’s $9.37 million spending plan.

Unlike last year, the village plans to make enough revenue to avoid dipping into its emergency fund balance. This balance is down to about $400,000. The village used just under $200,000 last year, and plans to let the fund grow for a while rather than depleting it further.

The village will raise $2.8 million in property taxes, slightly more than last year. Because the total value of village properties is higher, the tax rate will dip to $14.62 per $1,000 of assessed value, compared to $15.33 per thousand for the current year.

The village will also pay less for recreation than it has in the past. The cost has long been split evenly between the village and the town, but the village voted last year to drop support by 2015. However, the village will still cover the program through Dec. 31 at about 70 to 75 percent of what it has traditionally funded, according to Mr. Fenton.

The budget should be unaffected by the upcoming town vote on a special recreation taxing district, he said, but it will not be finalized until after the April 10 referendum.

“I’m sure we’ll wait to see the result of the recreation vote before we pass our budget,” he said.

The budget also includes an estimated $300,000 in revenue from the village’s two hydroelectric plants. A single plant has brought in $102,652 so far this fiscal year, far less than the projected $403,754. The long-delayed West Dam Hydro Plant was expected to open last year to make up the difference, but has yet to generate revenue for the village.

The plant is nearly complete, and should begin generating power once the weather warms and ice stops blocking the turbine, Mr. Fenton said.

Revenue of $300,000 from the hydro project is a conservative estimate, Mr. Fenton said. The village expects the plants to bring in $400,000 or more.

A public hearing on the budget will be held 6:30 p.m. April 7 at the town offices. Village trustees will vote on the budget April 21, and it will take effect June 1.

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