A long-time member of the Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees says if surrounding townships agree to end double-taxation of village residents, then funding for a local adult center will be restored.
John McEneany issued a press release Wednesday stating that he will "move to reinstate" $5,000 in funding for the Saranac Lake Adult Center - but only if surrounding townships agree to end "double-taxation on villagers."
In its current form, the village budget leaves out funding for the senior organization. That has prompted fierce outcry from many taxpayers.
Other organizations, like the Saranac Lake Civic Center, also lose funding in the tentative fiscal plan, while groups like the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce are preparing for a decrease in funding.
At a public hearing on the proposed budget earlier this week, numerous residents spoke out against the cuts, noting that the village should be supporting both its youth and its seniors.
Funding for the Saranac Lake Youth Center and the Saranac Lake Youth Program remain at last year's levels.
McEneany says the choice to leave out funding for the adult center isn't about whether or not the organization should be supported. Rather, he says it's about "how it's supported, who should support it and how village taxpayers should be protected by our very own towns from paying twice."
"It's a great asset to our community and we are all lucky to have it and the great group of volunteers involved with it," McEneany said of the adult center.
According to McEneany, Harrietstown contributes $18,000 to the adult center, while North Elba gives $2,400 and St. Armand kicks in $500.
McEneany says the village should pay "its fair share" - but not if residents are being taxed twice.
"Paying in your town tax bill and then again in your village tax bill, well, that would just not be right," he said.
Speaking to WNBZ Wednesday afternoon, adult center Director Gina Norton said the board was trying to "pacify people."
"They keep talking about double-taxation all the time," she said. "If they're going to apply that standard to groups like the civic center, the chamber of commerce, and the adult center, then that standard should be applied fairly and consistently to all budgetary items across the board, not just to certain ones."
McEneany agreed with Norton, noting that the problem of double-taxation needs to be addressed wherever it exists.
McEneany says tackling double-taxation is also a matter of transparency for the residents living in both a town and the village. He wants towns to shift their funding for groups like the adult center to their "out of village" districts.
"If you're a village resident and the village board decided to give the adult center $5,000 - you know as a village resident that that's what you gave them, period," McEneany said.
McEneany has asked Village Manager John Sweeney to draft a letter to the towns of St. Armand, North Elba, and Harrietstown - if the towns agree to shift adult center funding to out-of-village districts, then he says the village will "reinstitute its annual $5,000 contribution and save the village taxpayers from double-taxation."
"That way, we're all paying our fair share for a worthy organization," McEneany said.