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Valatie’s needs grow but not cash to address them

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VALATIE –The Village Board met last week to review the current budget and to look ahead to the 2014-15 spending plan. “We are not going to be in a deficit, but there will be no reserve fund,” said Board Member Phil Bickerton, as the board looked at money needed to cover expenses in the budget that will start June 1, 2014 and run to May 31 of next year.

Also at the Thursday, February 26 meeting, board member Dave Williams said he and his fellow officers of the American Legion Post #47 on Main Street are planning to sell the building and are hoping to use a room in the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Center, which the village shares with the Town of Kinderhook.

Mr. Williams told The Columbia Paper after the Village Board budget meeting that the Legion would meet with members in March to discuss the sale and send letters about the change to members who have not attended recent meetings.

He did stress that the Legion would keep its charter and would still meet.

Mr. Williams said that the building costs $7,000 to $10,000 a year for just electricity and water. After the meeting in March, Mr. Williams said the officers of the Legion would decide on the price for the building and when it would go on the market.

As board members looked at the budget, new construction in the village was a topic of discussion. The village has a partial moratorium that limits the number of new housing units that may be built while the municipality complies with state and county health department requirements to test a village well to see whether it is being affected by surface water.

Mayor Diane Argyle said that after a year of testing the county Health Department says that the tests were inconclusive about what is called the influence of surface water. Health officials consider the possibility of surface water influence on public wells to be a potential source of pollution, and in the case of one of Valatie’s wells they say there would need to be another six months of testing.

“I’m not going to do that,” said the mayor. She said the board needs to look at a filtration system for all the village wells which would lift the construction moratorium on water hook-ups and the village could sell water to nearby communities. “How many millions of dollars are waiting?” she said of construction projects that have been put on hold.

Before adding new projects, though, the board needs to look at aging infrastructure issues with water lines that have broken twice in recent months, and roads that need work. “We need an emergency fund for the water main breaks,” Mayor Argyle told the board. She doesn’t anticipate having any money in reserve accounts to create an emergency fund, but she did talk about raising residential water rates to help with the costs of maintaining the system.

Another area that is costing the village money is the Senior Center on Williams Street. The board pays for a staff at the building, with one salaried and one part-time employee, and a person who cleans the building. Seniors hold daily events in the building and at one time there was a revenue from dinners served in the space. Now the only income comes from soda sales. The mayor said she would look into finding other revenue sources to help cover the cost.

“Expect some cuts in some places,” said the mayor, who plans to have a preliminary budget for the board at another budget meeting on Wednesday, March 19 at 6 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email eteasdale@columbiapaper.com.

 

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