Tupper Lake town budget passed unanimously

TUPPER LAKE – The town board here unanimously approved next year’s budget Monday, and supervisor-elect Patti Littlefield is already looking forward to 2014.

This marks the third budget in as many years the town has stayed below the state-mandated tax cap. Tupper Lake’s tax cap this year was 1.66 percent; the tax levy increase came in at about 1.25 percent.

The tax rate for the 2014 budget is $2.97 per $1,000 of assessed property value outside the village and $2.90 per $1,000 inside the village. That means property outside the village assessed at $100,000 would be taxed $297.

Supervisor Roger Amell said the town saved about $30,000 on employee insurance by switching to a different plan through its provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“When we save, the employees save because we pay 15 percent of the premium, so when the premium goes down, their rates go down,” Amell said.

Amell said those savings helped the town purchase a refurbished 2005 Tucker 2000 snow groomer to maintain local snowmobile trails. The board unanimously approved that purchase during Monday’s meeting. The groomer is expected to arrive within the next two weeks.

The town board also unanimously agreed to nix a $4,000 stipend for the budget officer position. The board also denied a controversial $2,000 raise for the town supervisor that was included in the tentative budget, leaving that salary at $16,000.

“We took the $4,000 for the budget officer and put that money into a contingency fund,” Councilwoman Littlefield said. “The raise that was penciled in for the supervisor’s budget will be redirected to training.”

Littlefield, who on Nov. 5 defeated Amell for the town supervisor position, explained she will attend the annual Newly Elected Officials Training School in Albany from Jan. 15 to 17 with new board members Michael Dechene and John Quinn. Quinn joined the board in July after Councilman David Tomberlin resigned midway through his first term.

Littlefield said she is already looking for creative ways to improve Tupper Lake’s economy. That might include meeting with Saranac Lake village Mayor Clyde Rabideau to pick his brain.

She also said she’d like to fulfill a campaign talking point by convincing the board to hold meetings later in the day so more people can attend. Currently the town board meets at 4 p.m.

There are two years left on Littlefield’s council term, so the board will have to put someone in that position after she assumes the supervisor role in January. Littlefield said she can’t say whom she might recommend for that position.

“I’ve thought about it, but I haven’t thought seriously about making any remarks until the new board members get involved a little bit,” Littlefield said. “I’d like everyone to be in consensus of that person. I’m sure everybody is thinking about it.”

Before Monday’s meeting came to a close, Amell congratulated Littlefield, Quinn and Kathleen Lefebvre on their victories. Lefebvre, whose four-year seat is expiring, successfully ran for the two-year remainder of Tomberlin’s term.

“I really do appreciate all the support I did get, but in actual reality I do get my life back, so it’s a win-win situation for me,” Amell said.

Contact Shaun Kittle at 891-2600 ext. 25 or skittle@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.