Budget approved in Gowanda
Total expenditures for the new fiscal year are set at just above $2.8 million. This reflects a General Fund savings of $15,021 from the 2011-12 budget. The village fiscal year begins June 1.
From the General Fund figure of $1.637 million, $1.255 million will be raised through property and sales taxes. The property tax rate will increase $2.92 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in Erie County, and $4.58 per $1,000 in Cattaraugus County. For a property assessed at $20,000, the tax would increase by $58.40 per year on the Erie side and $91.60 on the Cattaraugus side.
In Mayor Heather McKeever’s budget message, she explained that the tax levy is offset by sales tax revenue obtained from the counties, and since the village receives far more in sales tax revenue from Erie County than from Cattaraugus County, this accounts for the difference between the two sides.
Quoting from the mayor’s statement: “This board has been faced with the difficult challenge of providing the lowest possible tax increase to our residents while still maintaining the services that you have come to know and rely upon. We received total cooperation from every department, including no raises for non-union employees.” She said that deep cuts were made to offset increases the board had no control over, such as the rising cost of fuel, employee retirement contributions, property insurance, health insurance and interest on borrowed funds.
She closed her message by saying, “I believe the village is on the threshold of different opportunities that if developed properly will help us to diversify a revenue base, keep our services sustainable, attract new businesses, and retain current businesses, ultimately establishing an enhanced quality of life for our residents.”
Before the meeting began, Paul Zimmermann was sworn in by Clerk Kathleen Mohawk as the newest village trustee. He was appointed by McKeever, who vacated her trustee seat when she was chosen by the village board to complete the remaining term of former Mayor Richard L. Klancer, who resigned in January. Klancer was elected to the Cattaraugus County Legislature last November.
Long-time fireman and police officer Stephen Raiport was honored by both the village and Cattaraugus County for his exceptional service to the Gowanda community. A recent recipient of the prestigious DeWitt Clinton Award for public service by the Gowanda Masonic Lodge, Raiport accepted commendations from Mayor McKeever and Legislator Klancer.
Raiport, who was celebrating his 40th birthday, was surrounded by four generations of his family when the proclamations were read. The Clinton Award recognizes his exceptional service as a community volunteer. He has served as chief of the Gowanda Fire Department and a village police officer, as well as playing an instrumental role in the formation of the Zoar Valley Rescue Squad. He also volunteers as a coach in serving the needs of area youth. In proclaiming April 24 as “Stephen Raiport Day,” Mayor McKeever urged all citizens “to recognize the valuable contributions made by Raiport and the organizations in which he serves, and encourage others as they are inspired by his example to serve this community to improve his own life as well as the lives of others.” Legislator Klancer then read a proclamation on behalf of Cattaraugus County Legislature Chairman Norman Marsh.
Raiport addressed the board in support of an Explorer program for youths aged 14 to 20, partnering with the local Boy Scout troop and the Gowanda Fire Department to encourage young people to become involved in community service. He recalled that a similar program was in place here about 25 years ago, but later was discontinued. Participants can train with the firemen, but cannot answer calls until they become members of the department. Other opportunities include touring the sheriff’s department to learn about careers in law enforcement. Sixteen-year-olds can join the fire department with restricted duties.
The village board approved a motion for Raiport to meet with the Scouts on May 2 to examine the possibility of reinstating the Explorer program.
In other business, the board:
• Heard an overview of the 2012-13 Gowanda Central School budget by Superintendent Charles Rinaldi, who announced that a public hearing on the budget is set for Tuesday, May 1 at 7 p.m. in the middle school cafeteria on Prospect Street. Voting for the budget and school board candidates takes place Tuesday, May 15 starting at 8 a.m. in the middle school library.
• Heard Raiport announce that the Gowanda Fire Department has joined with three other area police and fire agencies to apply for a state grant to acquire technical rescue equipment. If approved, Gowanda’s share would be $37,500.
• Learned that the storm water runoff problem on Miller Street will be addressed by installing a catch basin, as per the recommendation of the village engineer and highway superintendent. A similar situation on Caroline Road is under study.
• Thanked the Town of Perrysburg for contributing $1,250 to the village recreation program. A letter of acknowledgement will be sent.
• Scheduled a computer and electronics drop-off on Saturday, May 19 from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the wastewater treatment plant on Aldrich Street. Trustee Sheibley said that three previous recycling events earned the village nearly $800 total.
• Learned that a representative from Cornell Cooperative Extension would like to address the board in May on the topic of preventing tobacco use by young people. Details will be forthcoming.
• Heard Sheibley announce that the NFTA Metro Bus Route 216 to Gowanda may be discontinued in May. The board urged the public to call and write their Erie County representatives to keep the buses running.
• Authorized the village attorney to notify the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to execute an agreement for continued use of a village-owned building on Industrial Place.
• Approved attendance of elected and appointed village officials at the Southern Tier West Local Governance Conference at Houghton College on May 9.
• Approved a permit for the Hollywood Happening on June 1-3, pending receipt of an insurance certificate, and a permit for the first-ever Zoar Valley Fest on May 12.
The next regular Gowanda Village Board meeting is Tuesday, May 8 at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Building, 27 E. Main Street.