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April 29, 2013

Tupper holds final forum on fire/police station

TUPPER LAKE — One last public discussion pushed for answers, as this community decides whether or not to build a fire/police station. 

It was the final forum before a referendum vote slated for Village of Tupper Lake residents May 7, seeking to bond $3.2 million for a new emergency services building at a cost not to exceed $4.5 million.

Project manager Sean Foran of Heuber-Breuer Construction said $1.3 million in grants from federal and state sources hinges on voter approval of the bond.

And further grant funding may be acquired, he told about 55 people gathered in Tupper Lake for the recent evening session, if the referendum shows widespread support for the project.

The $3.2 million bond bears a 2 percent interest rate spread out over 30 years.

And if the the bond referendum passes but grant funds fall through — a scenario Foran said is highly unlikely — then the project would not move forward.

“If we don’t get the money, there is no project. You’re not committed to anything,” he said.

TAX BASE

People asked aloud if Tupper Lakers could afford a new station.

“Why not wait until the tax base is stronger to build?” local businessman Peter Day asked, arguing higher assessments in a larger tax base would lower the annual bond cost.

Municipal bond rates are at an all-time low, Foran responded.

And they aren’t going down.

“The current rate hasn’t been this low since before Lyndon Baines Johnson was president,” the project manager advised.

Increased competition among contractors is driving cost savings, even though this project is bound by state law to adhere to the prevailing wage schedule.

If the community waits, the cost would increase about $500,000 in one year, Foran said.

“With school, county, village and town (taxes going up), taxes are not sustainable,” Day said. “Everything you say is fine and good, but you still have to pay for it.”

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