By CRAIG FREILICH
POTSDAM – The Village of Potsdam Board of Trustees approved a $5.9 million budget Monday night that included $160,000 as a half share of the joint town-village recreation program.
That is a reversal of the village’s attempt to pull out of the recreation program and force the Town of Potsdam to fund and operate the program on its own.
Under this budget, the tax rate will rise 1.61 percent, from $15.09 to $15.33 per thousand dollars of assessed property value.
The budget for water operations is up 9.5 percent and sewer is up 4.7 percent. The trash budget remains the same.
The board has allocated $200,000 from the current fund balance, leaving about $800,000 in reserves.
The budget is “very consistent with last year’s,” said Village Administrator David Fenton.
“The department heads did a really good job of sharpening their pencils” and keeping costs steady, Fenton said. “It’s been tough on them.”
The village put back in its budget the $160,000 for the village’s one-half share of the recreation budget to match the town’s share, for a total of $320,000 to cover the program’s expenses after revenues from things like rink rental.
Without warning or discussion, the village board moved unilaterally March 18 to end its participation in the recreation program that the town and village have run together for many years.
The board decided at the time that it made sense for the town to run the whole program -- expenses, administration and all -- since the activities are for all people in the township.
The town board objected, saying that it would be a complicated matter to take over the program with little time for preparation and research on the legalities involved.
But after a hearing on the proposal on April 15, according to Administrator Fenton, it was “pretty clear people did not necessarily think it was a bad idea to take it out of the (village) general fund, but more time would be needed” for the town to assume the entire program.
“The board listened, and decided to give them a year or two to line it up, and that makes sense,” Fenton said.