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Sun., Sep. 21
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Construction looking up in Potsdam

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POTSDAM — Construction is looking up in the village, according to code enforcement officer Larry J. Colbert’s annual report to the Board of Trustess on Tuesday.

Mr. Colbert issued 196 building permits in 2012, 99 of those for residential improvements. The majority of these improvements were for roofing, he said, most likely because of damage caused by a severe windstorm that hit the village in July.

Last year’s construction netted the village $114,769.80 in permit fees.

The number of permit applications in 2013 promises an active year, according to Mr. Colbert.

“The outlook for this coming year is good,” he said, citing upcoming projects at Canton-Potsdam Hospital and Clarkson University, as well as the likely construction of a Hampton Inn.

The village housing market is less active. No new homes were constructed in 2012.

“It would be nice if we could get some more homes in the village,” Mr. Colbert said.

The board hoped to fund a few construction projects of its own Tuesday. The board approved an application for a $76,000 grant from the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency. If the application is approved, the funds will be used to cover most of the costs of an $86,000 jet fuel pump for the Potsdam Municipal Airport.

Another project was tabled as Trustee Ruth F. Garner objected to building an open-air pavilion in Ives Park for the Potsdam Farmers Market.

The board was to vote on a resolution for the village to seek permission from the state Department of Transportation to build the pavilion with funds that were originally dedicated to the design of a visitor center.

Ms. Garner said she approves of some of the proposed renovations to Ives Park, such as an improved boat launch, but she thinks a pavilion may prove an eyesore.

“I feel it’s a big encroachment on the last piece of land that’s near the river,” she said.

Ms. Garner and Eleanor F. Hopke were the only trustees present at Tuesday’s meeting, along with Mayor Steven W. Yurgartis, so the three decided to postpone the vote until a later meeting.

In other business, the board approved overriding the 2 percent state property tax cap. Mr. Yurgartis said there are no plans for the village to raise taxes more than two percent, but the override is needed as a precautionary measure to avoid state penalties if the cap is exceeded.

The board also approved raising the maximum allowable income for senior citizens to qualify for a partial exemption from village property taxes. A 2-person family making less than $16,000 annually will be eligible for a 50 percent tax break, with the exemption shrinking at higher income levels.

Previously the maximum allowable income for the 50 percent exemption was $8,000.

“It’s about time we raised this,” Mr. Yurgartis said. “It’s been low for a long time and it’s about time we caught up.”

Eight of the village’s seniors now receive exemptions under the old law. This number is expected to double now that the new limits have been approved, according to Mr. Yurgartis.

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