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Lyons Falls mayor not surprised by audit; spending plan creation underway

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LYONS FALLS — Village Mayor Catherine L. Liendecker wasn’t surprised when results from state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli last week revealed her board has been collecting too much in taxes from residents since the 2008-09 fiscal year.

It was a problem she said she was aware of since becoming mayor four years ago.

“We knew something had to be done,” she said. “It’s why we contracted with (the Development Authority of the North Country) to do an asset management plan.”

James W. Wright, DANC CEO, said municipalities contract with the authority frequently for such plans to determine the useful life of their assets. Having a maintenance plan in place also will increase the lifespan of water and sewer systems.

For Lyons Falls, the plan will outline where funds should be allocated for future projects, as well as what issues should be addressed sooner.

“We know we have old buildings,” Mrs. Liendecker said. “Some may need to be renovated; some may need to be demolished and rebuilt.”

“We already know we need new furnaces,” she said. “The asset-management plan lets you know what you have and how long you have until you’ll need to replace it.”

Though the comptroller’s report indicates residents have been overtaxed, Mrs. Liendecker said the tax rate has not changed since she took office. The tax levy, she said, “has stayed stable and under the 2 percent tax cap.”

The two townships in which the village lies, West Turin and Lyonsdale, both went to 100 percent assessment last year, increasing taxes for some homeowners.

The audit revealed that nearly $640,000 in surplus funds remained after the 2012-13 fiscal year, an increase of about $200,000 over the five-year span. The surplus amounts to nearly double the village’s annual budget, which for 2013-14 is about $352,000, the audit said.

The village budget is complete for this year, but Mrs. Liendecker said officials will be using the suggestions from DANC to place funds into reserves for specific purposes.

About $180,000 is likely to be allocated very soon, as a proposed sewer improvement project that would extend sewer service was defeated by public referendum April 1.

A portion of that project, the replacement of the Dock Street pump station, still has to take place.

The full audit report can be found at http://wdt.me/DTRaDW.

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