The Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees held a public hearing on its proposed budget for next year, which includes a tax rate increase of 1.3 percent and a 4 percent increase in spending.
About a dozen people attended Monday night's hearing and a few aired concerns about specific budget items, but no one criticized the proposed tax or spending increases, which the village board said were a result of declining assessed real estate values and rising employee costs.
Lake Placid Village Police Chief Scott Monroe was among those who had concerns about one of the proposed budget cuts. He said he disagreed with a plan not to refill two positions that were left open after a pair of police officers left the force earlier this year.
Since then, the police department has been operating with only 10 officers instead of a full force of 12 members.
"I'm against the cutting of police officers," Monroe said during the public hearing.
He explained that with only 10 officers working, it would be hard for his squad to cover all its duties this summer.
Monroe also questioned the idea of restoring a second full-time trolley driver at a cost of $28,000, when the police department was down two officers.
Mayor Craig Randall said the extra driver was needed to make sure that residents who depend on the trolley have reliable year round service.
Monroe countered that public safety trumps public transportation.
"As a taxpayer, I'd rather have the [police officer] positions filled than having trollies going up and down the street," he said.
Village resident Eileen Valentine said the board should charge a small fee to passengers on the trolley in order to help the village pay for the additional police officers.
Wayne Johnston, a storeowner and member of the Lake Placid Business Association questioned whether the trolley should even be run during the off-season.
"This time of year we're just throwing money out the door," he said.
Trustee Zay Curtis, who is also a police commissioner, said it's a mistake to view the trolley system as something that's just for tourists traveling from their hotels to the shops on Main Street.
"It's a community service for people who live here," Curtis said.
He noted that the trolley helps senior citizens and others who can't drive or don't have access to a vehicle to get food and medications.
Curtis did say that he and the other board members might reconsider their decision to cut the police officers.
Village Attorney Janet Bliss said the board could adopt any changes before it approved its final budget this summer.