LAKE GEORGE - In the future, village employees and officials may be making a higher contribution toward their health insurance coverage, if a proposal by Mayor Robert Blais is realized.
Monday, Blais suggested the village board consider raising the amount both elected officials and hired employees pay toward their health insurance to 20 or 25 percent of the premium.
Those elected or hired before 1988, including Blais, pay nothing, with the village picking up the entire premium. Those on the payroll between 1988 and 2002 or so pay 10 percent, and those joining the village more recently pay 20 percent.
The village board deferred on extending health insurance benefits to village firefighters as they have requested, noting that to do so would move the village into a less favorable insurance rating category of more than 50 insured participants, which would dramatically boost premiums.
Also at Monday's meeting, the board expressed surprise that an independent appraisal they requested for a plot of village-owned property on the shore of Lake George near Tahoe Motel was reported at $40,000.
The members of the Hill Drive Homeowners Association are interested in buying the plot, about 100 feet square, which once hosted a village water dept. pumping station, but now is primarily vacant, except for a picnic table.
The Homeowners' Association is now paying $4,000 per year for a 10-year lease, but they are now seeking to purchase the property.
Board members believed the lot had substantially more value, as it was appraised for $90,000 some years ago, and the town of Lake George is now assessing it at $147,000.
Blais said members of the Homeowner's Association had apparently been buying up strips of land surrounding the parcel, and that now it was landlocked, which may have lead to the property's dramatic decline in value, according to the appraiser.
The property now hosts two docks extending into Lake George, but they are against zoning regulations, Blais said, and will likely have to be removed.
Having turned over police protection of the village decades ago to the county was saving the village taxpayers more and more money, Blais told the board. He noted that vehicle liability premiums for municipalities with police departments were set to increase 5 percent this year, while Lake George's was likely to decrease 20 percent.
In other business the village board:
• set Friday July 3 for the annual Independence Day fireworks display, with an eye on extending the holiday weekend;
• voted to spend $17,280 to purchase a new heating system boiler for the village water treatment plant after the one purchased 5 years ago failed due to extensive corrosion. Village Public Works Superintendent David Harrington said that humid conditions contributed to the boiler's failure, and that village employees have learned that firing it up occasionally during the summer can prevent corrosion, a practice which he said will be followed with the new boiler.
• decided to cut $630 from a $1,645 contract with Sunshower Services of South Glens Falls for starting up lawn sprinkler systems in spring and shutting them down in the fall for winter. Town employees will now undertake the work on the sprinklers at the Village hall, those off Lake Ave. and at the water treatment plant. Sunshower will continue to service the systems at the baseball and soccer fields and along Beach Rd.
• approved spending $5,200 for a new length of fire hose and nozzle to replace some of the faulty hose lengths now on fire trucks. Some spare hoses will also need replacement soon, Blais said. The board also designated Tyler Fire Equipment Service of Elmira to conduct annual maintenance of fire apparatus for $6,672.
• approved the concept of leasing a backhoe for $10,000 per year, to replace a 2001 backhoe that was deteriorating and needing more and more repairs. Blais and Harrington said that the lease would be cheaper than ownership. The leased John Deere equipment has a 5-year warranty.
• heard that trustee Ray Perry had been contacted by a cell phone service provider, and the firm might be interested in placing a transmitter atop the village's water tank on Middle Rd. for a payment to the village of $800 or so per month.
The next village board meeting is scheduled for March 16.