Kudos to the Lake Placid village board for crafting a 2011-12 budget that will keep the tax increase low; the levy would rise by only 1.2 percent over the fiscal year that is coming to a close.
One way the village would counter the constant increases in employee health insurance and pension contributions would be to not replace two police officers who left the force. The police chief doesn't like this, understandably, noting that the village has had 12 officers since 1980. But from our standpoint, this village's population (2,521, according to the 2010 census) and the number of arrests we publish on page 3 of the paper don't justify 12 officers, or even 10. The police department for Tupper Lake, a village that seems to have more arrests and where 3,667 people were counted in the 2010 census, has only nine members.
Meanwhile, the Lake Placid budget would keep trolley buses running year-round, free of charge. In the future, the village would do well to charge a small fee for the trolley, say $1 per ride.
This budget would also add a new position, deputy treasurer, to handle payroll and replace a retiring account clerk. We don't yet know enough to judge whether this is a good move, but we do know the village has a lot of work to do in getting its payroll and utility billing back up to an acceptable standard. As every attentive Placidian knows, the state audit released late last year exposed scandalous stuff in these areas, which were the responsibility of village Clerk Kathryn "Kook" McKillip. She stands accused of stealing almost $23,000 by giving herself unused-leave-time payments she had not earned, and since she still has not given the public a single excuse or alibi, it's hard to believe she is innocent. Somehow she has managed to avoid being fired or charged criminally. We, like many in Lake Placid, remain very interested in seeing that situation justly resolved.
Meanwhile, it's good to see the village board not considering the police department a sacred cow when spending cuts are in order. With school taxes in Lake Placid rising and showing no signs yet of stopping that climb, village and town leaders would draw extra ire if they piled their own tax hikes on property owners' backs.