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Comptroller: Lyons Falls has overtaxed residents since 2008

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State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office has criticized the village of Lyons Falls in an audit for collecting too much money in taxes from residents since the 2008-09 fiscal year.

The audit revealed that nearly $640,000 in surplus funds remained after the 2012-13 fiscal year, an increase of about $200,000 over the five-year span.

The surplus amounts to nearly double the village’s annual budget, which for 2013-14 is about $352,000, the audit noted.

The comptroller’s office said Mayor Catherine Liendecker told the office that the village board opted to “overestimate” the budget to protect the village against unforeseen circumstances.

These excesses, however, grew each year, leading the comptroller’s office to say that village officials “levied and collected more taxes than necessary to fund village operations.”

The state suggested the village use the surplus to reduce property taxes, increase or establish necessary reserves, finance one-time expenditures or pay off debt.

The comptroller’s office said that village officials have taken steps to use the unexpended surplus by adopting a fund balance policy, establishing a contingency and tax stabilization reserve and entering into an agreement with the Development Authority of the North Country.

Mayor Liendecker stated in a written response, “We have been working diligently the past four years to improve our operations and governance.”

The village will submit a corrective action plan to the state within the required 90 days, she wrote.

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