By Jann Wiswall
Three public hearings were held at the Ellicottville Village Board meeting on Monday, April 8, to allow for public comment and questions on the 2013-14 budget and two local laws:
Local Law #2 of 2013 amended Local Law #3 of 2012 entitled “A Local Law Setting Forth the Rules and Regulations Governing Water Service.”
Local Law #3 of 2013 amended Local Law #3 of 2011 entitled “A Local Law in Regard to Local Sewer Use Law.”
Both laws introduce new billing practices for water and sewer usage in the village, and both take effect immediately.
One resident, Cindy Gooding, attended the meeting and asked for a year-end financial report for 2012-13. Mayor Charlie Coolidge said she could pick up the report any time. No other residents attended the hearings; the budget was approved by the board, as were the local laws by roll call vote.
The new laws create uniform billing practices that make water and sewer usage rates more equitable and generate more revenue based on actual usage. They 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 increase the number of commercial accounts from 21 to 86. In addition, the laws create three classes of commercial accounts that will be billed based on the size of their water/sewer meters.
The laws include a 5 percent increase for residential and commercial water usage above the minimum charge; most village residents and businesses use only the minimum. In total, the new classification structure will generate approximately $19,000-$20,000 in revenue for the village. This revenue will be used to pay for future system repairs.
New Sidewalk Plow Considered: Department of Public Works Superintendent Harold Morton reported last month that the sidewalk plow will require repairs before next winter. Coolidge said that he and Town Supervisor John Burrell have discussed replacing the equipment, which is co-owned by the two municipalities and operated by the village.
The board discussed the merits of one particular model, and agreed that, if the town board also approves the purchase, the village board will initiate the state bid process with the intent of purchasing a new sidewalk plow by December 2013. Because this purchase is not in the current year’s village budget, Burrell tentatively proposed that the town would pay for it in 2013, and the village will reimburse the town for half of the cost in its next budget year.
Constable’s Report: Village Constable Howard Gifford reported that 30 traffic summonses and 11 warnings were issued in the month of March. In addition, 26 parking tickets were issued by the constable and 14 by the Town of Ellicottville Police Department. Fees of $1,760 from parking tickets was collected during the month. There were three open container complaints, one disorderly conduct complaint and one public urination complaint. In addition, local law enforcement responded to a hot tub fire, a motor vehicle accident and several other incidents.
Gifford also shared a copy of a new “hold harmless agreement” prepared by Village Attorney Bob Simon for use when police are asked to unlock vehicles whose owners left the keys in the car.
On a separate topic, Coolidge firmly denied rumors he has heard suggesting that the village sets traffic and parking ticket quotas. In no uncertain terms, he said “the board has never set a quota” and that such rumors are “absolutely not true.”
1887 Building Parking: Mayor Coolidge has had a number of conversations with developer Kody Sprague, who is investigating the possibility of turning the 1887 Building on the Village Square into a boutique hotel. Sprague has presented the idea to the Village Planning Board, the CCIDA, and others. All, including the mayor and village board, agree that the concept would be positive for the village, and all agree that designating parking for the hotel is the biggest challenge.
Coolidge has discussed the issue with Village Attorney Bob Simon, who explained that the land immediately surrounding the building is public land and, therefore, cannot legally be designated for any single building or purpose. While Sprague would be able to designate some parking spaces by removing the white addition at the back of the building, there is no other space adjacent to the structure that legally can be provided.
Engineering Report: Village Engineer Mike Smith updated the board about progress on planning for the new wastewater treatment plant that is part of a consent order from the New York State DEC. Under the DEC’s mandate, the village must submit a report by October 2013 on recommended modifications and facilities improvements. Smith said his firm has found a number of potential solutions to various problems and that he will need to purchase and test some equipment in order to provide the DEC with supporting data for any recommendations that are made. The board agreed to purchase the necessary equipment with budgeted contingency funds.
The next village board meeting will be held on May 14 at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall.