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Potsdam mayor mulls options after recreation district rejected

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POTSDAM — Village Mayor Steven W. Yurgartis said Friday that he will need several weeks to consider how to respond to town voters’ rejection of a new recreation taxing district.

“I don’t honestly know where to go from here. I’m going to take a few days to sort of let the results settle in, and to try to talk to some people and ask why they voted the way they did and try to understand the results of the referendum better, and go from there,” Mr. Yurgartis said.

The village had planned to turn over control of Pine Street Arena and all other recreation equipment to the town. In addition, the town would have picked up the salaries of all recreation workers, although the village would have continued to pay part of the benefits for long-serving employees.

All of this hinged on voters’ approval of a special recreation taxing district, which would have given the town the funds it needed to manage the program. Voters on Thursday shot down the idea, with 464 votes against compared with 407 in favor, and the memorandum of understanding between the town and village is moot.

The village has little time to decide how to handle recreation. The proposed 2014-15 budget includes recreation funding only through December.

“It appears there are a lot of people who don’t want to pay for a public recreation program,” Mr. Yurgartis said.

For now, the village is left with an aging arena it might no longer wish to fund, and employees for a program that might not exist next year.

“It’s possible someone else might want to run that program. It’s possible we put that thing in mothballs. It’s possible we work out some kind of other sharing agreement with the town. I just don’t know yet,” Mr. Yurgartis said.

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