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Town board to meet next week to discuss recreation

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POTSDAM — The Town Council will hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the future of recreation in the village, which was thrown into flux Monday when village trustees voted to stop funding the program by the end of 2013.

The budget was split evenly between the town and village, but now the town has to decide whether to foot the bill on its own.

“We would be horrified not to have the youth of the township have a recreation program,” said town Supervisor Marie C. Regan.

The way the town collects taxes poses several questions.

“There are certain things we have to find out before we can go forward,” Mrs. Regan said.

Recreation is funded through “town outside” taxes, which are not paid by village residents in Norwood and Potsdam.

In order to fund the program without the village’s help, the town would need to pay for it out of the general fund, which is paid for with taxes collected from all town residents.

However, Norwood has its own recreation program and most Norwood residents do not use Potsdam’s arena and other facilities. The town board will discuss whether it is legal or fair to charge Norwood residents for a program they don’t use.

“They can’t be taxed for something they don’t get,” Mrs. Regan said.

The town is looking into the legality of creating a special recreation taxing district that includes all residents of the town except Norwood, but Mrs. Regan said she has not been able to find an example of another municipality using a similar program.

If the recreation program continues, village residents probably will not see their taxes drop by much, if at all. Although the savings to the village will lead to lower village property taxes, the town will have to charge village residents more to keep the program going, according to Town Clerk Cindy L. Goliber.

“It doesn’t reduce taxes, it just shifts taxes,” she said.

The village’s sudden decision has left the town with unanswered questions.

The village still is paying off half of a $600,000 compressor that was purchased for the Pine Street Arena several years ago, and the new resolution does not make it clear whether the village will continue to pay this debt.

The arena is in sore need of renovations, with an old roof, showers that don’t work and out-of-date locker rooms and bathrooms. The village will sell the arena to the town for $1, but will not be responsible for the much-needed repairs.

“They’re offering it to us for a dollar, and that’s about what it’s worth,” Mrs. Regan said.

Mrs. Regan said she wants to see the program keep running but, until the board figures out its next step, the future will remain uncertain.

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