Trustees in Saranac Lake say they will reinstate funding for civic organizations in the 2011-2012 village budget.
Officials with organizations like the Saranac Lake Adult Center and the Saranac Lake Civic Center decried a plan to cut funding for such groups. Members of the public appeared before trustees last week and told the board not to defund the adult center, noting that it provides a valuable service for seniors and people with physical handicaps.
The tentative budget, presented to trustees and the public last month, would have cut $5,000 in funding for the adult center while the civic center and the Robert Louis Stevenson Society would have lost all funding as well.
Groups like the Saranac Lake Youth Program and the Saranac Lake Youth Center saw funding maintained at last year's levels, while the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce would have been funded at $10,000 - $5,000 less than the current year.
During a budget work session Monday, trustees agreed to restore funding for civic organizations at current levels.
But there is one major catch.
Trustees say they plan to put the towns of St. Armand, North Elba, and Harrietstown on notice that this is the last time the village will double-tax its residents for civic groups.
Mayor Clyde Rabideau and trustees like John McEneany and Jeff Branch have taken a strong stance on the issue of double-taxation, noting that village residents who live within one of the three townships are charged twice for supporting the adult center, the civic center, and the chamber of commerce.
Trustee McEneany said Monday night that the village should end double-taxation across-the-board in the interest of fairness. And although he supports ending the practice next year, he said he's leery about holding out for another year.
"Then you just keep going on without taking action," he said.
Trustee Allie Pelletieri said the village shouldn't be discretionary about which organizations it supports. He called for a strongly-worded resolution making it clear that such groups would be funded in 2011-2012 - but that's where it ends.
Several trustees indicated that because the village was restoring funding, officials with civic organizations need to attend town budget sessions later this year and ask for additional funding.
Village Treasurer Paul Ellis told trustees that the defunding of the adult center and civic center, and a funding decrease for the chamber of commerce, should not have come as a surprise.
According to Ellis, he contacted those groups last fall, informing them of the village's intent to phase out double-taxation.
Meanwhile, the head of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce says the group will host a news conference later this week to discuss the village's intention to phase-out funding for the organization.
The press conference is slated for 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Blue Moon Caf on Main Street in Saranac Lake.
"This press conference is being organized to address the village of Saranac Lake's decision to phase out its annual support of the business community," said Sylvie Nelson, the chamber's executive director.