The town of Tupper Lake is expected to sign a contract for the village's fire protection services in the next few days, a move that would end a controversial standoff between the municipalities.
Village officials had feared they would have to raise taxes by more than 8 percent if the town didn't sign a contract by its budget deadline at the end of the month.
But with a contract waiting in the wings, the village announced during a budget hearing Monday that it instead plans to lower village taxes by more than 1 percent.
Town officials have said they want a fixed rate for fire protection services, citing part of a state law that says contracts for such services must be based on a definite sum - one that "cannot be determined by a formula or other technique which depends on future conditions."
Based on that language, town officials have said the village's fee, which is based on the town's real estate assessments, is in violation of state law. They have also argued that the town should take over the fire department since it pays about 70 percent of the cost.
That idea has not gained enough political traction, but the town has succeeded in getting a contract for a flat fee, at least in theory.
The wording of the village's revised contract now reads that the town "will pay a definite sum of $129,295" for fire protection services.
The dollar amount the town is being charged remains unchanged, however, and it's still based on the same real estate assessment formula the village has always used. The town will also be charged for its share of an equipment purchase, which amounts to about $31,000, a sum town officials had initially taken issue with.
Village officials said during a budget meeting on Monday that the wording has changed, but the substance of the contract has not. The only real change, they said, is that the contract with the town will be for one year instead of five.
Mayor Mickey Desmarais said he expects a signed contract from the town before the village passes its final budget at the end of the month.