Village helps fire department with Irene losses

B y Jaime Thomas

During the 36 hours members of the Granville fire department spent outside during Tropical Storm Irene, some of their equipment got pretty wet.

In fact, enough got soaked to result in a loss of more than $16,000 worth of radios, pagers, road cones, flashlights, rope, and other technical equipment, Chief Ryan Pedone said of the August 2011 storm.

“We didn’t run it through our insurance, we ran it through FEMA, but we realized the money never came,” Pedone said.

At a meeting Monday night, the village board addressed the issue and decided to provide funds for the fire department from its own balance of funds from FEMA. Pedone said there was a miscommunication somewhere along the line that led to the confusion.

Village Clerk Rick Roberts agreed and said there is no reason to point fingers.

“To me, that blame game is not a productive enterprise. The fire department is volunteers, and they certainly responded heroically,” he said.

Trustee Dean Hyatt pointed out that this financial loss to the fire department makes up nearly a quarter of its budget.

Mayor Brian LaRose said working with FEMA is a layered, extensive process, and the village also went through an event with no history to reference.

“I think it’s a good idea (to utilize village funds to help pay). Now it’s time to make whole what we could not make whole before,” LaRose said. The board then passed a motion to provide the funds to the fire department.

Pedone thanked the board at the meeting for taking care of the issue on behalf of the fire department. He said the board would be cutting a check to the department on Tuesday and he was already in the process of ordering new gear.

“I’m just glad we’re able to resolve the issue and we’re able to get that equipment back in the trucks,” he said.

Budget

Also discussed at the meeting was the tentative 2013-2014 budget which will remain static for the month of March until a public hearing on Monday, April 1.

A proposed tax levy of $999,682 would require a 1.91 percent levy increase, which is below the 2 percent state tax cap. LaRose said small increases are necessary this year because of retirement, healthcare, and other costs.

“Over the last four years we’ve been very diligent about finding cheaper insurance options, but workers’ compensation has gone up,” LaRose said. Additionally, the village does not expect to receive as much money in the coming year as last year.

“Non-tax revenues continue to decrease, which seems to be the way of the world right now, so we continue to make adjustments for that,” he said.

Village residents will only see a slight tax increase, from .925 percent to .953 percent. For a house valued at $100,000, this would mean an increase in taxes from $925 per year to $953 per year.

“We’ve done well in the last eight years trimming fat out of the budgets, but monies sometimes have to be put in to offset added costs,” LaRose said, adding that the village wants to avoid sacrificing services to its constituents.

Connection fees and sidewalks

Board members also decided to look into establishing a rate and fees for repairs, water hookups, and other services.

Dan Williams, superintendent of public works, has been in discussion with trustee Hyatt about creating a complete package of water and sewage standards to give a resident or to know what to charge someone.

LaRose also mentioned public concerns over the maintenance of public sidewalks which he said the village will try to keep up.

“Dan has worked very hard to come up with a plan to address those issues. We’ll do our best to keep the sidewalks clean for those who walk in the village,” LaRose said.

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