By Derek M. Otto

The regular Village of Springville Board of Trustee meeting was held on Tuesday, Feb. 21 in honor of the President’s Day Holiday.  Trustee Terri Skelton and Superintendent of Public Works Ken Kostnowiak were absent.

On the agenda was the public hearing on tax-cap override. As in previous years, the budgeted tax assessment is short; the override lifted and raised the tax cap above the current 1.0022 percent.  The board approved the override.   

During public comment, Springville resident Seth Wochensky approached the board to first give them compliments on how the village has been assisting him with the various renovation projects that the Springville Center for the Arts has been doing. He said his counterparts in other municipalities do not have the same cooperation.

Wochensky asked the board to consider the 44A tax abatement program for buildings in the historic district.  According to Wochensky, the restoration of historic buildings is costly and when renovations are complete, the owners are hit with larger assessments on their properties.  The 44A would allow a local law to abate taxes at a graduated rate, thus lessening the sticker shock of the tax bill.   

Trustee Alan Chamberlain remarked that other communities, such as Mt. Morris, have benefited from such abatement.  Mayor Krebs remarked that he was opposed to tax abatement for two reasons: one, its unfair to postpone taxes on properties that receive the same public services as the properties without abatement; and second, the tax assessment has been steady or declining, and it would be inappropriate to purposely reduce it.  Krebs also reminded the trustees that the village has other incentive programs like two New York Street Main programs that reimburse property owners the cost of approved historic renovations.

Liz Melock reported that the Department of Public Works union approved the contract to go into effect June 1, 2017.  The contract changes some of the contractual language and gives wage increases of 2 percent, 2.5 percent and 3 percent for the next three years.  The village will also switch health care providers, from Blue Cross to Independent Health. Employees will pay 10 percent of the insurance premium.

Melock also asked the board to authorize resolution Section 384-d that would change the policeman retirement plan.  The current plan does not accrue time from full-time work with the part-time work that the Springville police work, especially those that began work before 2015.  The change allows the village to change retirement plans.   

Melock reported on the water and sewer rate changes for the coming year.  Overall, the rate change will increase the water rates an average of $5.75 monthly or $69 annually. The board moved to vote on rate changes at the March 6, 2017 board meeting.   

In Kostnowiak’s absence, Melock gave the Superintendent’s report:

• Electric division surplus separated from the inventory and will be auctioned off online.

• B and B homes has completed 400 feet of East Hill Run and dedicated the property to the village.

• Asked the board to approve a change order for the Heritage Park contract.  The change order included unexpected additional costs, as well as credits to the village; in the end, the change order decreased the cost of the contract for the park by $8,000.

Officer Nick Budney reported that he was in talks with Erie County Stop DWI. Erie County Stop DWI would help the village receive up to 65 percent of the county money received from DWI convictions to help the village cover costs of DWI patrols.

The control center had 134 calls the past month.

Mike Kaleta discussed with the board a private property restriction.  At present, village police cannot ticket or respond to calls of violations on private property.  For instance, if someone is parked in a handicapped parking spot, without a permit, the village police cannot ticket the owner of the vehicle.  A local law would have to be in place.  Hamburg and Lancaster have similar local laws in place.

Mayor Krebs reported on consolidation plans coming from Albany.  A consolidation of shared services on the county level is promoted by Governor Cuomo.  County Executive Poloncarz is in favor of such a plan, yet many of the small cities and villages across the state are not in favor of the plan.

Krebs closed with thanking Liz Melock and Duane Boberg, president of the public works union, for negotiating the new contract.

The next village board meeting is Monday, March 6, 2017 at 65 Franklin Street.  The 2017-2018 budget hearing is on the agenda.