The Lansing Town Council held a special meeting on Sept. 30 to discuss various items in the proposed 2020 budget. One discussion that took place was focused on this year’s tax cap. Town Bookkeeper Charmagne Rumgay said the town is currently over the cap by about $10,000.
Rumgay said the majority of that total is because the town added a new water district this year, although Town Supervisor Edward LaVigne said he disgreed somewhat with that assessment.
“I have a hard time saying that adding a water district all of a sudden [puts the town] over the tax cap, because these are self-funded districts,” LaVigne said. “And for some reason that goes into the calculation because it is a tax increase.”
LaVigne said the situation with closing the Cayuga Power Plant certainly has impacted the tax assessment, although there have been other factors that have had a greater impact.
“We’re all concerned about the power plant … by the way, we just lost 15 million in three years from the shops at [the Ithaca Mall],” he said. “That’s not something we’re going to get back. We should know by the end of September what NYPA is going to do with allocating that power to the plant.”
The plant’s plan was to send an application to the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to receive a 125 megawatt renewable energy allocation. If the NYPA cannot offer a fair and reasonable power allocation, and deactivates and closes the coal plants at the site, there will be noticable, negative economic impacts on the surrounding communities. For instance, 600 union construction and 96 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) jobs will be lost. Four million dollars in revenue would be lost for taxing jurisdictions, affecting the financial welfare of local school districts, residents and businesses.
Wetmore said he heard a rumor that NYPA recently announced its decision to make a power allocation to the plant, though LaVigne said that is a rumor and that he has spoken with Plant Manager Jerry Goodenough and Goodenough did not have a confirmation on whether or not it is true.
Another discussion focused on funding for LED lighting in the town-wide district, along with the individual districts such as Warren Road, Ludlowville and Lakewatch. Rumgay said if LED lighting were to be implemented in the four districts, the individual districts should be responsible for paying for their lighting, which would not make it an expense for the upcoming budget. The only one that would be on the budget would be the town-wide district.
The town is still considering two proposals for the lighting in the individual districts--one being that NYSEG will continue to own the lighting in those districts and convert the lighting to LED itself. If NYSEG continued to own them, the payback period would be a little less than a year, according to Wetmore. The other proposal would be for the town to buy the rights to own the lighting in those districts and converts the lighting itself. If the town were to go with the first option, there would be a slight savings on electricity, according to Rumgay.
“Looking at one of the months of bills, Warren Road district was $20 for the electricity charge out of a $520 bill,” she said. “So the only thing that’s going to go down on that is the $20, which is pretty minimal.”