SARANAC LAKE - The village Board of Trustees has agreed to use $200,000 from its reserves to cover a portion of the cost of installing new sidewalks along Lake Flower Avenue.
The board voted Tuesday to increase its current budget by $200,000 and give the money, drawn from its fund balance, to the state Department of Transportation. DOT is overseeing the sidewalk replacement project. The work is expected to take place in the spring.
The project is part of an interim repair plan crafted in June by the village and DOT to upgrade some of Lake Flower Avenue's infrastructure. A major overhaul of the busy thoroughfare, part of state Route 86, remains on DOT's long-term calendar. The temporary fix also involves replacement of stormwater infrastructure on sections of the road, work currently being done by the village Department of Public Works.
Replacing the Lake Flower Avenue sidewalks is expected to cost close to $1 million. The village anticipates it will get federal funding to cover most of that expense, village Treasurer Paul Ellis told trustees during Tuesday's meeting.
"The federal grant basically covers 80 percent of the cost, leaving a 20 percent share that has to be matched by local sources," he said.
When the project was first discussed, the village was expected to control the money and pay the construction costs, Ellis said.
"Now the state - since they've done the design, they're going to let out the bids and they're also going to provide construction management - it seems they're going to take over the payment of all construction costs," he said. "The village gets taken out of the process, which saves a great deal of work, but it does require us to make a commitment of $200,000 as the 20 percent local share to the state."
The village is seeking state transportation aid to cover 15 percent of the cost, which would leave the village with only a 5 percent share, Ellis said.
Trustee Barbara Rice said she discussed the village's chances of getting that aid in a recent conference call with state Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, whose district includes half of the village - although not the half that includes Lake Flower Avenue.
"She was very positive about helping us out," Rice said.
Mayor Clyde Rabideau noted that the village hadn't budgeted the $200,000, which represents about 7 percent of the annual village budget.
"This 7 percent is something we're going to have to deal with and reckon with in our next budget," Rabideau said. "We're not starting at zero, we're starting at negative 7 when we start into our budget, and we do have a 2 percent tax cap."
Nevertheless, Rabideau said the money is a good investment "given the deal in front of us with New York State DOT" and the pressure from businesses and residents on Lake Flower Avenue to at least temporarily fix the road while the state's major $16 million overhaul is pending.
Ellis told the Enterprise after the meeting the $200,000 represents about 20 percent of the village's fund balance, reserves that are typically used to reduce the tax levy. While the board's decision means the village will have thinner reserves next year, Ellis said he didn't think the village will start its budget process behind the eight ball.
"What they passed tonight will not have a direct impact on what our normal expenditures are next year," he said. "One way or another, we'll make it work."
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or email@example.com.