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Potsdam makes rec taxing district official; vote to come

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POTSDAM — The town’s plan to create a special taxing district to fund the recreation program is officially moving forward.

The Potsdam Town Council approved the measure at a special meeting Tuesday.

The proposal will be subject to a referendum, which has been tentatively scheduled for April 10. The vote passed unanimously. Board member James A. Grant was unable to attend.

The public hearing preceding the vote was sparsely attended, with only four town residents present, including Recreation Director Timothy W. Carey.

Town Supervisor Marie C. Regan gave more information about how the district, which will include all town property outside the village of Norwood, will affect taxpayers.

If it is approved, everyone in the district will pay an additional 80 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value to fund recreation. However, it is possible sales tax revenue could be redistributed to help reduce costs in other areas. The total tax hike could be as low as 52 cents per $1,000, but this is heavily dependent on the amount of sales tax generated.

The cost of the recreation program is now split evenly between the village of Potsdam and the town, but the village voted last year to drop support by 2015.

Village residents likely will see their taxes drop slightly overall once the village stops paying for recreation.

Village of Norwood residents will be unaffected. They have their own recreation program and are not part of the proposed district.

Two residents in attendance strongly opposed the proposal, seeing it as an attempt to squeeze more tax dollars from residents who already pay too much.

Newbury E. Meader lives on Lakeshore Drive, just outside the village of Norwood. He requested the town exempt Lakeshore Drive residents from the district, as they are more closely tied to Norwood than to Potsdam, and are more likely to used Norwood’s ice rink and beach.

“The town is going to charge me for a place I don’t even use, when I can go two blocks up the street and go to a better facility,” he said. “It’s not right; it’s just not right.”

“As far as I’m concerned, you can shut the thing down,” he said.

Potsdam resident Francis H. Trombley agreed, suggesting the town charge for use of the facilities rather than putting the burden on taxpayers.

“Everybody pays. Get your money that way,” he said.

Resident Eleanor F. Hopke defended the plan. Ms. Hopke is a village trustee, although she said she was speaking for herself and not for the board.

Like others, she does not use the recreation program, but she said it is the responsibility of the community to make sure it is there for those who do.

“It’s not something that’s personally important to me, but it is important that there is a recreation program,” she said.

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