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Village of Lake Placid approves 2017-18 budget

July 6, 2017
By ANTONIO OLIVERO - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - This village's board of trustees approved all of its 2017-18 budgets at a special meeting Friday, June 30, including a water rate increase much less steep than initially proposed earlier this month.

Along with voting unanimously to approve its general fund, sewer and electric budgets, the village approved a 3.0 percent increase in water rates to make up for a negative budgeted difference of $146,412. That stems from budgeted water fund revenues for 2017-18 of $1.56 million and expenditures of $1.71 million. Last year, the village proposed an increase of 4.5 percent in water rates to balance the 2016-17 water budget. The village initially proposed a 9.36 percent hike earlier this month before approving the reduced increase of 3.0 at the June 30 meeting.

Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall explained at the meeting that village ratepayers are seeing two consecutive years of substantial hikes because as the village's personnel costs increase they are "eating up" any financial wiggle room the village had to maintain water rates. The mayor added that though individual conservation is a good thing environmentally that also saves individuals money, he also said it means less revenue for a water department that has seen departmental expenditures increase. Village Treasurer Paul Ellis said before last year's hike, it had been 14 years since the last rate increase.

"During those years, the cost of doing business in the department has gone up, and if you use the rule of thumb that 70 percent of our budget is personnel costs, there is never a year those don't go up," Randall said. "And as a result, over the years, the little cushion that was built in started to get eaten up.

"It's not sufficient to keep up," he added.

Randall added that the village has a project "on the drawing boards" to meter all water users - including residences - in the village. Randall said all businesses are currently metered.

The village is interested in investing in the project, he said, because when it went to borrow money via a bond recently for sewer line improvements, the state Environmental Facilities Corporation rejected a "hardship" zero interest rate for the project because Lake Placid doesn't meter its residences.

"Because we couldn't demonstrate the total consumption of our waters via meters," Randall said, " we were not in a position to receive that benefit.

Ellis said the zero interest rate would have saved the village $177,000 in the project this year alone.

"You are looking at basically a 20-year bond," he added. "So you are in the millions of dollars in savings had we had the hardship determination."

Trustee Jason Leon cautioned that such a metering project would also cost village taxpayers, though Randall and Ellis said it would save them much over the long term.

"Looking ahead, the benefits of doing that will eventually accrue with the ratepayers," Randall said.


General fund

The village approved the budget right at its maximum tax levy of $3,655,390, an increase of 1.4 percent over this fiscal year.

The estimated tax rate will be $5.82 per $1,000 of assessed property value, a decrease of around a cent compared to the 2016-17 budget.

"I would call it zero," Ellis added.

The village has decided to use $269,914 of appropriated fund balance to help offset the shortfall of the same amount between budgeted revenue and expenditures for 2017-18.


Sewer rates

The village approved a 0.65 percent rate hike in sewer rates to balance a negative difference of $15,881 between 2017-18 budgeted sewer fund revenues of $2.455 million and expenditures of $2.471 million. Village sewer rates remained flat between 2015-16 and 2016-17.


Electric rates

The village approved to use $334,461 of its fund balance to balance its electric fund budget. The village denoted an anticipated negative difference of $334,461 for 2017-18 due to higher projected 2017-18 electric expenditures ($8.984 million) versus revenues ($8.65 million).



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