Mayors Report - April 2008
Submitted by Mayor Mike Kinnie
Another month has passed by and spring is finally in the air. As always our Village is working diligently to prepare for the upcoming busy season. Thanks again to all the Village Staff and the Community Volunteers that work together to make our community special.
2008-2009 Budget - On April 8th we had a public hearing on our proposed budget. One of the highlights includes a decreased tax rate of 3.5% bringing our Village tax rate down to $6.75 per thousand. Unfortunately, we had to raise the water and sewer rates because of our continuing effort to replace the remainder of our out-dated water and sewer infrastructure and our desire to prepare for building a new sewer treatment plant and continue to upgrade our water plant, plus our on-going efforts to address the D.E.C. consent order which we've been working on for the past few years, The new rates are as follows: the Water Rate will go up to $105 for 0-3000 gallons per quarter, and the Sewer Rate will go up to $115 per quarter (flat rate). It is important to note that the water and sewer funds must be kept separate from the general funds. In other words, by law we cannot take money out of the general funds (property taxes) to help the water fund or the sewer fund. We also cannot take out money from the sewer fund to help the water fund or visa versa.
Sackets Harbor Central School Patriot Impact Group - Special thanks to the students who helped the members of the Chamber of Commerce with taking down the village Christmas lights. We really appreciate the strong relationship between the school and the community. The students from the school included: Jennica Dupre, Natalie DelPrete, Oliva and McKenzie Townsend, Melissa Winser, Kayla Metott, Andre Pettis, Josh Eppley, Eric Fingar, Ian Kinnie.
Sackets Harbor Green Initiative - As part of the Village's desire to reduce our energy consumption we are looking into phasing in LED street lights. LED lights use approximately one tenth the energy of a standard bulb or half the of the energy of a standard florescent light and last up to six to eight times longer. Initially we are hoping to have all the new street lights installed by developers be LED lights. Currently, we spend approximately $25,000 a year to power our street lights. Although the LED lights cost more initially, they last considerably longer and, more importantly, reduce our energy consumption significantly. The Village Engineer will be doing further research.
"Community Conversations" were held on Thursday April 10th at 7pm and Saturday April 12th at 9am. This event is part of the Village's effort to educate, motivate and innovate when it comes to sustainable energy efforts. Currently the Village spends approximately $150,000 to $170,000 to power and heat our Village facilities. The guide book presentation will be Saturday, May 3, at 10 am.
A little background on the Green Initiative, when I first was elected mayor one of the first items on my agenda was to encourage the Village to become a more energy efficient and energy sustainable community. Having been involved on Village Board for six Village budgets I was well aware of the money we were spending in utilities and felt there were ways to reduce our energy expenses and become more environmentally friendly. I knew that our Village residents already had an interest and thought, "now was the time to take it to the next level." I met with Heritage Area Director Dave Altieri to try and develop a plan. We came up with the "Sackets Harbor Green Initiative" and, with the help of Dave's contacts with SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry College (ESF) in Syracuse, we met with professor Sue Senecah. Sue was very excited to help and polled her senior/graduate class to see if they wanted to make our initiative their semester project. The class met with Dave and I, asked all sorts of great questions, and agreed to devote the entire semester to creating a guidebook to help Sackets Harbor become a model green community in New York State. The class has been working diligently on the project ever since. The group first visited our community in February and then coordinated the "Community Converstations" in April.
The Conversations included a presentation by Ann Heidenreich a representative from Community Energy Services through NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Agency). Anne demonstrated how easy it is to significantly cut down energy consumption by switching to LED or fluorescent lights, upgrading old appliances, installing energy efficient windows and through better insulation. For example, just switching from regular light bulbs to florescent bulbs will reduce your energy cost for lighting by approximately 75% AND the bulbs last over six times longer. She also explained some of the many grants and low-interest loans NYSERDA offers for residents including free appliance replacement for low-income homes, and 50% grants to install solar panels, high efficiency windows, insulation, etc. There is a lot of very useful information homeowners and people who live in apartments and condos can utilize right now. For more information, we have brochures at the Village Office and the Library or you can check out NYSERDA's websites at www.nyserda.org
We had over 100 people participate in the community conversations and many good ideas were discussed. For example, in the next 2-4 years we have to replace our sewer treatment plant (see above budget) what if, when we replace it, we designed it to be energy sustainable or even a mini-power plant. This past fiscal year we spent approximately $70,000 in heat and electric to run the sewer plant alone. If we designed the new plant to, instead of consuming extra energy, actually generate energy, we could save the Village a fortune. Some of the specific ideas were "digesters" that consume the sludge and create energy (as opposed to our current system of hauling, at great expense and time, the sludge to the land fill), solar panels on the roof, mini-wind turbines on the roof, and also possibly even using the water plant to tap into the energy generated from the Lake.
Other ideas include: Community gardens, making the Village a more walker friendly community, encouraging a bigger variety of shopping opportunities, so that we don't have to go into Watertown to shop as often, and making the School into a mini-power plant possibly as part of a year round pool facility with solar panels, mini-wind turbines, which would not only power the pool, but also the entire school. The possibilities are endless, we just need to work together to ensure whatever projects we undertake are energy self-sustaining or producing AND they are economically viable and efficient.
The next step in the process will be a public presentation by the students from ESF tentatively scheduled for Saturday May 10 at 10 am at the Municipal Building. Everyone is encouraged to attend. The guidebook will be presented and an action-plan will be discussed as to where to go next. We are hoping to have an on-going long-term relationship with SUNY-ESF, which will not only include a guidebook, but also develop into research facilities, green tourism, and an internship program within the Village. An extra special thanks to the students and professors from SUNY ESF in helping Sackets Harbor go green!
St. Andrews Church Parking Lot - The Village is currently reviewing the idea of installing a parking lot on the land adjacent to the Church. The Church had donated the land to the Village with the agreement that the Village would build a public parking lot by this past winter, and if the Village is no longer interested the Church would like the lot back. Eric Constance and Larry Barone will be reviewing the options and report back at the next Village Board meeting.
Sackets Harbor Central School - The Village and School have joined together to create an internship program. Our first intern is Junior Maggie Webb who will be working in the village office three afternoons a week.
Patriot Pride Day - May 16, 2008 - Students from the School will work in the village to help clean up Main Street (mulch, etc)
Village Spring Pick-Up - will be May 5-9 for picking up of bagged leaves, branches, etc.
Planning Board Appointments - There were three new appointees.
o Gary Gibson - Chair - term expires 1/2013
o Cheryl Payne - member - term to expire 1/2011
o Anne Nans as alternate member - term to expire 1/2014
A public hearing is scheduled for our next Village Board meeting to make an amendment to allow alternate planning board members to serve when a regular member is not in attendance. Currently the law is written to only allow alternates to participate if a planning board member has recused his/herself.
Local Government Seminar - Deputy Mayor Eric Constance, Trustee Larry Barone, Trustee Genie McKay, and myself all attended the Local Government Conference held at J.C.C. in March. It was a worthwhile event which helps train our Village government in everything from budgets, to planning, to legal issues that we might face as local officials. The keynote speaker spoke about "Boom Town USA" demonstrating how communities can capitalize on what makes them unique and market it as both a residential and tourist attraction.
We are looking into hiring one of the presenters, Scott Chatfield, to come to the village and do a training session for the planning board and possibly joining with the Town planning board to share the cost.
Sackets Harbor Fire Department Update - At the annual meeting of the Sackets Harbor Volunteer Fire Department the members elected Mark Farrington to be the new president of the corporation.
Chairman Farrington called a special meeting of the Board of Directors at which the board voted to rescind the resolution to dissolve the corporation and split up the assets. The majority of the membership of the Fire Department have had a chance to make their voice heard and they too want to stay together. Now we await the Supreme Court Justice's decision on the petition filed by some of the members of Station two to dissolve the corporation. The Village has filed legal papers to argue against the dissolution, as has the New York State Attorney General's Office and now the membership has also weighed in. We hope Justice Gilbert will agree that keeping the SHFD together is the right thing to do for the benefit of our entire community.
The Village Board passed a motion for interim approval of new officers of the Sackets Harbor Fire Department Board of Directors, pending the decision by the Supreme Court Justice, (Hugh Gilbert) and the Attorney General's office. The Board passed a motion to approve Joel Sova as Fire Chief of the Sackets Harbor Fire Department. Approval of other officers has been tabled until a decision has been reached by Justice Gilbert.
Sackets Harbor Land Development Corporation - LDC is transferring $100,000 back to the Village accounts to reimburse the Village some of the costs in the investigative stage of the clean-up of the old Augsbury Oil property. The Village and the LDC received a grant from the D.E.C, which will reimburse 90% of the cost of the investigation stage.
Community Forum/ Recreation Forum - There will be another community forum in May on our proposed joint Town/Village Recreation plan in May. The group sent out a survey to all the residents of the Town and the top three areas of interest were: Walking trails, public beach and year round pool.
Rural Development Housing Loan Program - The USDA is offering low-income grants and loans for residents who wish to renovate or build a new home. Documents, descriptions, and applications are available at the Village office or at http://www.sacketsharbor-ny.gov/.
Lakeside Cemetery - The Town of Hounsfield has agreed to take over the Lakeside Cemetery. The Village Board had first right of refusal but after discussions with DPW Super Lonny Reinhardt and Town Board Supervisor Jean Derouin, the Village Board has agreed to have the Town take over the cemetery with the stipulation that the Village would like representation on the advisory committee and requests that the historic importance of the cemetery be included in any future decision making. There vote was 4-1 in favor. Trustee McKay voted against because she said she has received a lot of calls requesting the Village take over the cemetery.
Pickering-Beach Museum - The Sackets Harbor NYS Battlefield is working to put power lines underground to the State Park buildings at the end of Main Street. This gives the Village the opportunity to also install power lines underground to Pickering-Beach Museum. The Village discussed having electrical wires laid along the same line as the water and sewer trench to avoid the need of any further archaeology. There have already been archaeological studies around the museum. The Village will move forward to work with NYS Parks to put the power lines underground. Eventually, it would be nice to have all of Main Street's power lines underground.
Deputy Mayor Constance
· Police - working with police department regarding reduced hours. He took a tour with Sergeant Coseo, discussed current crime levels and how to keep it down.
· Wood burning furnaces - getting information from other communities, will present next meeting.
· Shared Services - discussions with Town Supervisor Derouin regarding possibility of sharing the 3rd Alarm Building.
· Economic Development - concerned about the number of shops closing on Main Street. Would like to get business owners more active in the marketing committee. The Chamber announced that new businesses are moving in and almost all the vacant spaces are filled.
· Recreation - 140 K-6grade kids have signed up for baseball season.
· The Summer Recreation program is being re-vamped. All positions are being reviewed and applications are now being accepted for all positions including Summer Rec. Director.
· Growth in the Recreation program will require working with the Town to develop fields that can accommodate the number of participants.
· Cannon at Market Square Park - Waiting for reply correspondence from New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on the cannon insurance waiver.
· Trees and Foliage - He is working with Kelly Reinhardt and her Tree Committee to develop a cost sharing program that would help residents with the cost and care of tree replanting on the Village right-of-way (between sidewalks and the road). There would be a 50/50 match and the homeowner would get to choose the type of tree based on the recommendations of the Tree Committee. The tree planting program is first come first serve. The Village DPW will install the trees. There will be a ceremonial first planting of the trees in the near future. They are also looking into grant opportunities.
· DPW will begin Spring pruning shortly.
· Main Street Hanging Baskets - recommend we proceed as we did last year.
· Village Hall - Municipal Building received a grant for a face lift. He will be working with Bernier & Carr about time frame.
· Fireworks - Fourth of July $5000 contract with Young's Explosives has been signed and approved.
· Trustee McKay reported that the Marketing Committee recommended $1500 be granted to the Beer and Wine Festival. Trustee McKay moved that amount be approved by the board. Deputy Mayor Eric Constance seconded the motion. Vote 5-0 in favor. This is a fund-raiser for the SH Fire Company and a "Yellow Ribbon Event."
· Trustee McKay reported that the Marketing Committee recommended $500 be spent to advertise in the Summer Fun publications which have expanded their distribution. Trustee McKay moved that the amount be approved by the board. Trustee Barone seconded the motion. Votes 5-0 in favor.
· Trustee McKay reported that the Marketing Committee is currently considering a request from the Concert on the Waterfront organizers. She also wanted to point out that the marketing budget went down this year.
· Chamber of Commerce - New directory will be printed soon. May 4th the Chamber is sponsoring "Make Your Move to Sackets" and open house for all realtors, retailers and restaurants.
· "Historic Deck of Cards" - Featuring historic building throughout the community, is going to print.
· Special thanks to the DPW for the work they have done cleaning up Main Street.
The next Village Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 13th. If you have any questions on any Village issues please feel free to call me 646-3548.
Michael R. Kinnie
Mayor of Sackets Harbor