An Interview with Saranac Lake Village Treasurer Paul Ellis
Today on the K&J show, we’re speaking with Paul Ellis who has been the VIllage Treasurer in Saranac Lake since 2008. Our discussion takes us to the general requirements of a village by the state of New York as well as to the Water and Sewer departments and we’ll delve into the equalization rate, which, this year changes the overall impact on Harrietstown residents. According to Ellis, The Village of Saranac Lake has and continues to do well under the economic recovery. The community, as well as the region, wasn’t as prone to the housing market collapse, and is more resilient to large spikes (and declines) in housing prices. We did experience a decrease in Full Value Taxable Assessments (FVTA) in 2009. Despite annual decreases in FVTA we remain above the 2009 low due to a town reassessment in addition to a 100% Equalization Rate that took effect with the 2010 Assessment Roll. Refer to the table below. We anticipate modest to above average growth to our FVTA over the next 5 years due to two large commercial ventures. Based on the 1) combined investment by the hotel developers of $27 million, 2)
Governor Cuomo’s pledged $35 million investment in Trudeau Institute, 3) AMA’s annexation and Planned Unit Development for the sale of private residences and 4) Expansion of new health services at Adirondack Health and st. Joseph’s Treatment Center we expect significant increases in FVTA beginning in 2015. We expect the increasing trend to continue based on anticipated above average job growth in the region.
Employment opportunities are expected to grow at a rate higher than normal both near and long term. Due to the substantial business growth, we predict future labor shortages. This is viewed positively since it will lead to attracting new residents to our community. In turn this will result in new home construction and home renovations increasing FVTA over time. Between the 2000 & 2010 census, the Village experienced an increase of 365 residents – a 7.24% growth in population. The Village anticipates this trend to continue due to the expansion
of jobs. The two hotel projects discussed above will create approximately 100 new jobs. The secondary impact of these two operations will expand further business development and create additional employment opportunities in the various service related enterprises.
The combined construction budgets of both hotels are approximately $27 million. This will provide an immediate economic boom to area construction companies, material suppliers and the local service industry. New YorkState’s $35 million investment in Trudeau Institute over the next 5 years will lead to more highly skilled jobs for our region. This investment, along with an improving economy, will lead to increased funding from NIH. The potential for employment growth could range anywhere from 20 to 40 new highly skilled jobs.
For 2014-2015 the tax cap limit is flat due to a calculation error in 2013-2014, resulting in a zero percent (0%) change in the tax levy. In order to meet increased costs in employee benefits, energy and materials, significant cuts had to be made budget. In addition to these cuts, the Village Court is closing April 1, 2014 which provided approximately $5,000 net savings (revenue minus expenses) In comparison to last year, the 2015 General Fund Budget is down 1.2%. The tax levy will not increase. In addition, there have been changes in taxable assessed values and a change in the Equalization Rate for the Town of Harrietstown. The net impact of these changes will be a decrease in taxes for the Village’s Franklin County residents, but an increase for the Village’s Essex County residents.
The increase in water rates is primarily due to the continued loss of revenue due to water metering. Customers are conserving more which results in less billable water volume and therefore less revenue. In order to meet increased costs in employee benefits, energy and materials, significant cuts had to be made budget. In comparison to last year, the 2015 Water Fund Budget is down 0.41 %. The budget proposes a 4% increase in water rates.
As with water rates, sewer rates will increase due to the continued loss of revenue due to metering. Customers are conserving more which results in less billable volume and therefore less revenue. In order to meet increased costs in employee benefits, energy and materials, significant cuts had to be made budget. In comparison to last year, the 2015 Sewer Fund Budget is down 1.2%. The budget proposes a 4%increase in sewer rates.
As most of the community is aware, there will be major capital projects taking place beginning in April. The Village will begin work on Broadway that will include water, sewer and storm line replacement. In addition, the road and sidewalks will also be replaced. Most of the project costs will be funded through NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) in the form of 0%loans or with grant monies. The other major project will be NYS Department of Transportation ‘s (DOT) road and sidewalk project along Lake Flower Avenue. DOTis planning on replacing approximately 6000 feet of sidewalk and also repairing the road surface. The Village had to contribute 20%of the overall project cost. This resulted in the Village issuing payment to New York state for $190,000. Both projects are expected to be completed prior to the summer season.