Village eyeing 1.88 percent tax increase

B y Jaime Thomas

Village officials approved a tentative $1,347,000 budget for the 2014-2015 year Monday night.

Mayor Brian LaRose said the village is looking at a 1.91 percent tax levy increase, which would mean a 1.88 percent increase in taxes. This keeps the village under the state’s 2 percent tax cap.

In order to achieve these numbers, the village will use $14,500 from its fund balance. LaRose cited increased Department of Public Works contractual expenses and less revenue from certain grants as factors in the upcoming budget.

Village Clerk Rick Roberts said the tax increase for the budget, which is actually about $1,300 lower than it was last year, is motivated by decreases in revenue and trying to keep at status quo.

The budget will now remain static for 30 days.

Additionally, Village Clerk Rick Roberts asked the board to use money this year from its fund balance, in order to make up for weather-related deficits.

He explained there have been more fire calls, the Department of Public Works is $20,000 overrun and the ordinance officer is overrun.

“This is just a fact of life when you get a winter as long and hard as this one; sometimes we don’t budget conservatively enough for it,” Roberts said. “I have nowhere to pull the money from.”

The board unanimously approved the budget transfer and agreed with Roberts.

“One thing you cannot predict is the weather,” Trustee Paul Labas said. “What can we do?”

“That’s basically what a fund balance is for; you have those reserves,” Trustee Gordie Smith said.

A deep hole in Main Street

Another unexpected expense that cropped up was a collapsed storm drain on Main Street last week, which created a hole that was 8 feet across and 8 feet deep.

Dan Williams, Department of Public Works superintendent, said it’s fortunate a large truck did not traverse the spot.

“You could lose a vehicle in this,” he told the board. However, an 8-inch thick layer of blacktop kept the road from collapsing. Williams said a citizen spotted a small, but deep hole. After village employees broke away the blacktop, they discovered how large the problem was.

They were able to patch the road in order to make it safe, but Williams asked for village approval to hire TKC construction to come Monday and fix the problem at a cost of $6,000 to $8,000 per day. He hopes the project will take less than three days and said anything more than that would be very extensive.

Trustee Dean Hyatt asked if Williams could use a camera to see how far down the line is broken, and he said he would try to borrow one that the village of Whitehall owns.

Addressing the Pember

LaRose also said the village board will be setting up a public meeting in the coming weeks with the Pember board to draft an operational budget for the library and museum.

“I’m looking forward to that; it’s our first step of moving forward with the Pember,” he said. After the meeting, he said the library’s board of trustees is working hard to fix issues that recently arose. “As long as we all move forward, it’ll work out.”

During public comment, resident George Henry thanked the board for their efforts with the Pember but asked members to work more closely with the institution into the future.

“A couple of different people from the previous board said if there had been village oversight, they wouldn’t have misunderstood their bylaws. If someone could come from the village to the meetings, so this would not be a redo a couple of decades down the road,” he said.

In other matters:

  • LaRose said the town hall building on Main Street is being considered by the state for preservation as a historical site. “I think it’s a really cool thing we’re being considered. That’s an old building,” he said.
  • The board renewed a 15-year agreement with Time Warner Cable to provide service, pending approval of the village’s attorney. Per the agreement, the village will receive about $32,000 per year for television service or 5 percent of the gross billing proceeds.
  • Resident Gary Knapp told the board he hit a pothole on Potter Avenue, sustaining substantial damage to his car and asked if the village could help with the cost. LaRose said other residents had come to the village with similar concerns, but it is not village policy to help pay.
  • Hyatt thanked Granville’s fire departments for their quick response to a recent fire on Potter Avenue, and Trustee Frank Caruso thanked them for investigating a false alarm at his home.

The next regular meeting will take place Monday, April 7 at 7 p.m.

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