Ellicottville Village Board
Garbage Collection Fee Approved
New Water/Sewer Classifications Proposed
By Jann Wiswall
Beginning July 1, 2013, village residents will see a fee for garbage collection in their quarterly water and sewer bills. This long-debated fee was approved as Local Law 1-2013 at the Village Board meeting on March 11, 2013.
Through June, village residents and part-time residents must continue to use the garbage bags available for purchase at the Town Hall.
Before approving the new law, the village held a public hearing on the matter. Weekend residents Mr. and Mrs. Gary Fosbrink were present to object to the law, saying in a prepared statement that they personally take their trash home with them after a weekend in Ellicottville and that they did not feel they should pay for something they don’t or won’t use. Mr. Fosbrink felt that the board should look at other options to ensure that only the people who use the service are charged for it. He suggested the board require residents to purchase bags to fund the service, not realizing that that is the current policy.
Mayor Charles Coolidge explained that many other options and solutions have been considered over the years, including the purchased bags, and that the village had worked long and hard to try to enforce various policies. But, he explained, too many people are either unaware of the rules or skirt them by dumping their trash on other people’s property – thereby creating even more problems. Coolidge noted that the new fee, which is quite low when compared to most municipalities across the country, will help avoid these and other issues that have plagued the village over the years.
DPW Report: Harold Morton, superintendent of the Department of Public Works, reported that the sidewalk plow is officially out of commission for the rest of this winter. He also noted that village roads have taken a beating this winter and that the department is patching potholes as quickly as possible. Coolidge noted that Elk and Mechanic Streets are in particularly bad shape this year, due mostly to heavy truck traffic. He said the village may have to look at instituting truck weight limits on these and other smaller roads in the future.
Constable’s Report: Village Constable Howard Gifford reported that 17 traffic summonses and five warnings were issued in the month of February. In addition, 19 parking tickets were issued by Gifford and five by the Town Police Department. Fees totaling $2,540 from parking tickets was collected during the month. There were four open container complaints and two public urination complaints. In addition, village police responded to a hit-and-run vehicle incident that began in Little Valley and was resolved in Ellicottville, and responded to a few complaints involving intoxicated individuals.
Special Events: According to Special Events Committee Chair Patra Lowes, Mardi Gras in the village last weekend went smoothly, with few problems and only the few police complaints noted by Gifford. Coolidge and board members agreed that everyone involved did a great job at this year’s event.
Zoning and Engineering Report: Sheila Ransbottom, business development manager with Nussbaumer & Clarke, Inc., represented Village Engineer Mike Smith at the board meeting and reported that her office, along with Town Engineer Mark Alianello and others, met with State Department of Transportation officials to discuss two projects the state will undertake for the town and village over the next year and a half. The first is installation of sidewalks, drainage and curb work along Route 242 from HoliMont into the village. The second involves improvements to the intersection at Fillmore and Route 219. Construction of both projects is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2014.
There will be a public informational meeting to describe these projects at HoliMont’s Main Chalet on April 22 from 6-8 p.m.
Proposed Water Billing Changes: A major issue for the village has been to address serious infrastructure issues with its outdated water and sewer lines and imprecise billing processes. Much progress has been made on improving the billing processes, especially with the replacement of all village water meters. Still, several issues remain, most notably the repair of a major leak at the village reservoir, which will begin after the East Tank water project is completed later this year.
These essential repairs must be funded, and the Village Board asked engineering firm Nussbaumer & Clarke to suggest ways the village can further improve its billing structure in the interest of creating “Uniform Billing Practices” that make water and sewer usage rates more equitable and to generate more revenue based on actual usage. In response to that request, Jim Campolong, the firm’s capital projects manager, presented a proposal to reclassify a number of commercial businesses that are now being billed at residential rates or whose usage is significantly higher than other businesses. The reclassifications would increase the number of commercial accounts from the current number of 21 to 86. In addition, the firm proposed to create three classes of commercial accounts that would be billed based on the size of their water/sewer meters.
The proposal also includes a 5 percent increase for residential and commercial water usage above the minimum charge. This would amount to approximately 12 cents per 1,000 gallons above the minimum. Most village residents and businesses use only the minimum. In total, the new classification structure would generate approximately $19,000-$20,000 in revenue for the village, which would be put into the reserve account that pays for future repairs.
The board felt that the proposal was fair and equitable and moved to hold two public hearings — one to address water rates and one to address sewer rates — at its next scheduled board meeting on April 8 at 6 p.m. at the Town/Village Hall.
In addition, the board scheduled another public hearing at the same April meeting to allow comment on the 2013-14 budget.