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Debt could impact Fort Johnson budget

Friday, February 22, 2013 - Updated: 5:09 PM


Recorder News Staff

FORT JOHNSON -- Unexpected debt will burden the village's upcoming 2013-14 budget development, but Mayor Ken Walter says it won't cause property taxes to exceed the confines of the state-imposed cap.

About $32,000 in "unbudgeted surprises" arose last year in the village's roughly $220,000 spending plan, Walter said. He attributed $20,000 of those costs to continued recovery and mitigation efforts in response to Tropical Storms Irene and Lee.

Walter said the village was prompted to participate in the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Emergency Watershed Protection Program for a project near two residences by the Kayaderosseras Creek.

The program, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture website, doled money to local governments for addressing watershed impairments that "pose imminent threats to lives and property."

"The bid came in $20,000 more than expected, and we have not been reimbursed for it," Walter said.

The village was also required to undertake mitigation projects at its wastewater treatment plant, and though the Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursed the village, Walter said the money hasn't been spent yet because the project hasn't been given final approval.

The village also had to take out $12,000 in loans to comply with the state Department of Environmental Conservation's revived interest in a 50-year-old oil spill site at what's now the village's salt and sand storage shed.

Montgomery County had acquired a property Walter referred to as a former Tryon site, and in rehabilitating the contamination 13 years ago, constructed seven test wells, and completed other remedial measures.

The village purchased the site from the county about a decade ago for $1 to construct the shed and use the existing facility for equipment storage on Fort Johnson Avenue.

In doing so, two monitoring wells became unrecoverable, Walter said, and last year, 13 years later, DEC became interested in the site once again.

"We had to rebuild two wells, and pay for testing because they wanted to track the concentration and make sure it doesn't flow into the creek," Walter said. "It wasn't something we budgeted."

"We have some debt this year, and that's unusual, but I anticipate we will be able to stay within the tax cap," he said.

Fortunately, village Clerk and Treasurer Barb Smith said sales tax revenues are exceeding projections, though one quarter's worth of money still has to be collected to close out the 2012-13 budget.

The village board on Thursday set the following budget development schedule: workshops on March 13 and March 30, with final budget adoption scheduled April 18. The public hearing is expected to take place at 6:45 p.m. before that meeting.


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