The Village has been working very hard over the past few months not only to maintain the quality of life we've all grown accustomed to, but also to improve our community and plan for the future. We have a great staff of employees and community volunteers that work together to make our Village the special place we know and love. Outlined below is a brief summary of some of the projects and issues going on in the Village.
2008-09 BUDGET The Village Board has been working very hard to keep our tax rate low while continuing to improve our quality of life, which we value so highly in our Village. We have had many budget work sessions over the past few months and are pleased to present a proposed budget in April which will lower the Village property tax rate by approximately 3.57% (from $7 per thousand down to $6.75 per thousand).
WATER and SEWER IMPROVEMENTS In our continuing desire to prepare for future infrastructure improvements, we are raising our Water rates from $90 per quarter to $105 and our Sewer rates from $110 to $115 per quarter. These rates have to be increased because of the Village's need to address the on-going D.E.C. compliance order, our Water & Sewer maintenance and repairs, and to continue to improve and replace outdated infrastructure while also preparing for the projected building of a new Sewer Treatment plant within two to four years and future repairs and improvements to the Water Plant. A copy of the budget will be available at the Village office and will be available on line. We will be having a public hearing on the budget at our April 8th Village Board meeting. For more information, please contact the Village Clerk or me directly at (315) 646-3548.
ZONING LAWS The Village has formed a zoning re-write committee and is working with EDR to re-write our zoning law. EDR, a planning and design firm out of Syracuse, has teamed up with nationally renowned planner and zoning attorney Joel Russell to take the data from our Heritage Area Visioning Sessions, the draft of our new Comprehensive Plan, and feed back from various public hearings to producing new zoning laws based on the Village's unique historic importance, recreational opportunities, rural landscapes, waterfront and urban core. Throughout this process there will be a series of public meetings to seek public input and feedback. The Village is also working on some amendments to the zoning laws as "stop-gap measures" including a law requiring a temporary permit for temporary storage structures. A committee led by Trustee Barone and McKay is currently reviewing the proposed amendment.
NEW DEVELOPMENT The Battlefield Commons roads and infrastructure have been certified as complete and has been handed over to the Village. The 206 Ambrose, LLC roads and infrastructure (Edmund Street) are almost complete and soon should also be signed over to the Village. Other residential developments are also well on their way to being complete. New homes are now being sold and new residents are moving into the community, which helps build our tax base and keep our tax rate down. We welcome our new residents and thank the developers and the Planning Board for insuring our village expands in a planned, careful, thoughtful way.
ONTARIO SHORES After many years the Ontario Shores water and sewer projects are complete which means there is only a very small portion of the Village that does not have public water and sewer.
SACKETS HARBOR FIRE DEPARTMENT The Village of Sackets Harbor holds the members of the Sackets Harbor Fire Department in the highest regards. We cannot thank the members enough for their community service and self-sacrifice. However, unfortunately, a group of members from SHFD Station 2 desire to split up the corporation and its assets. Although the Village Board and Town Board worked very hard to resolve their concerns, this month the group petitioned the Attorney General's office in New York State Supreme Court to dissolve the Sackets Harbor Fire Department just one day before a joint meeting between the Village Board and Town Board meeting was scheduled to take place to finalize a compromise agreement. Because of the impending legal proceedings the joint meeting was cancelled.
The Sackets Harbor Fire Department has served the Town and Village successfully for decades and is one of the most important, if not the most important, organization in our community. We will do everything in our power to keep the organization intact. Therefore, we are working with the Attorney General's office and with our attorney in answering the Supreme Court petition in the hopes of keeping our fire department together for the sake of safety, security, economy and efficiency for the Village and Town residents. The petition should be reviewed by Supreme Court Judge Hugh Gilbert some time around April 17, 2008. The Fire Department will be holding elections of officers including new Board of Director members at their next meeting on April 2.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT We are working with Jefferson County Emergency Management to finalize our Emergency Management Plan. A meeting should be taking place this in April to complete the plan.
SACKETS HARBOR LDC Don Dimonda the president of the LDC and myself are working on an agreement to repay some of the funds the Village has expended in the investigation stage of the clean-up of the old Augsbury Oil property. We have recently met with the D.E.C. to help move the investigation forward and finalize a 90/10 grant, which we hope will fund 90% of the costs of at least the investigation stage of the project. The D.E.C. grant is to cover the investigation stage, which should be approximately $187,000. As we understand it from the D.E.C. after the investigation stage is complete the Village will no longer be legally liable for the clean-up.
RECREATION FORUM There was a Town/Village Community Recreation Forum on March 20, 2008 at the School coordinated by Jan Maas and Dave Altieri with the assistance of Jefferson County Planning. The results of the Community-wide Survey were presented. Three of the most requested projects were a non-motorized recreational trail system, a public beach area, and a possible year round pool. About 11% of the households who were sent surveys responded. If you still wish to fill out a survey please contact the Village office.
SACKETS HARBOR GREEN INITIATIVE FORUM With the help of Heritage Area Director Dave Altieri, I have started the Sackets Harbor Green Initiative, which we hope, will make Sackets Harbor a model green community for the rest of the State. We are currently working with SUNY Enviromental Science and Forestery College in Syracuse to create the guidelines and public awareness. In fact, one class at ESF will dedicate the entire semester to creating the guidelines for Sackets Harbor's Green Initiative. They had a fact-finding trip to Sackets in February meeting with Village officials, and members of various community organizations as well as Connie Barone from NYS Park at Sackets Harbor Battlefield, and Don DiMonda from the LDC. We hope to explore ways to use sustainable energy resources throughout the Village including at the future sewer treatment plant to cut down on energy costs, improve our enviroment, work with the Rec. Committee to develop trails and more park land, save tax-payer dollars and possibly even become a green research site for ESF and a green tourist attraction.
THERE WILL BE TWO PUBLIC FORUMS coordinated by the ESF group presented on April 10 at 7:00 PM and April 12 at 9:00 AM at the Village Municipal Building. The forums will include a presentation by a representative from NYSERDA's Energy Smart Communities, Ann Heidenreich. Please come and participate.
RIDGEVIEW TELECOM and WIRELESS MAIN STREET Ridgeview Telecom is currently finishing up a wireless network which will span across the Village and the Town providing the opportunity for high-speed internet service and internet phone service throughout the Town. As part of the negotiated agreement the Village will receive free municipal phone service and create a free wireless hotspot in the Main Street Business district. We estimate the savings to the Village could be well over $5000 a year. The Village phone numbers will remain the same.
SACKETS HARBOR SCHOOL I have been meeting with the new School Superintendent Fred Hall and the new Principal Jennifer Gaffney on a monthly basis and regularly meet with Town Supervisor Jean Derouin. We all feel it is important for the School, Town and Village to work together wherever possible to become more efficient and save taxpayer dollars. We are working with the school to develop an internship program between the school and the Village. The program has been approved by BOCES. One of the potential projects will be to scan all our laws and minutes into the computer to create files, which are easily searchable for research. All parties involve understand the importance of working together to make our community a better place for all.
SHCS PATRIOTS BASKETBALL WEEKEND As I'm sure everyone knows, both the Girls and Boys Varsity Basketball Teams became Regional Champions and made it to the NYS final four. Congratulation to the players, coaches and programs for a great season! We truly have a wonderful school chocked full of quality staff, teachers and students. As Mayor, with the support of the Village Board I proclaimed the weekend of March 14th Patriots Basketball weekend and with the help of the School, the Town, the Fire Department, the DPW, the Police Department, and of course the players and coaches we had a wonderful parade/pep rally! Thanks to all!
PLANNING BOARD Regrettably, Planning Board Chair Paul Warneck has resigned due to an increasing workload at his job with the County. Paul has been a great asset to the Planning Board and his expertise and experience will be missed. We thank him for all his wonderful community service over the years. After consulting with the Village Board and Planning Board, Gary Gibson will be the new chair with Janet Quinn as his deputy. I will also be appointing a new member and an alternate at the next Village Board meeting.
The Trustees are busy working on ways to improve the Village. Some of the highlights include:
Trustee Constance - The supervisor of the Police Department, is working with the Police to adjust the schedules in the hopes of continuing to trim the budget. We hope to cut the budget by $20,000 this year by cutting down staffing during the slow periods. He is also working with Supervisor Derouin on shared services with the Town and is looking for way to cut out duplication of services.
Trustee Frechette - is the Board member tasked with the Recreation Program. He announces that Sign-ups for the Thousand Island Baseball Association will be held in late March and early April. The Village received a letter from the Watertown Hockey Association thanking us for the use of the harbor during the recent Family Fun Hockey Weekend. Thank you to the DPW crew and Tom McKay for their time and efforts to make this event a success. The Hockey Association has expressed interest in Sackets Harbor hosting this event again in 2009. The Stoodley Park committee and the Fire Department will be having a clean-up day at the Stoodley Park lot scheduled for April 26.
Trustee Barone - is working with Kelly Reinhardt to develop a tree planting program in the Village. The Village has budgeted $5000 for its annual Fourth of July fireworks and after receiving a couple of estimates from fireworks companies has recommended to contract with the same vendor we have used the last couple of years (Young's Explosives). Village received a loan agreement for the cannon at Market Square Park with the NYSOPRHP; the village attorney is reviewing the document. We are waiting for the snow to melt for more progress on Fort Pike.
Trustee Barone has spoken met with Town Supervisor Derouin and members of the Lakeside Cemetery Association regarding the take over of the Lakeside cemetery. The Town has agreed to take over the maintenance and operation of the cemetery. Unfortunately the Lakeside Cemetery association had to be dissolved because of limited finances. Trustee Barone will be attending a workshop with DPW representatives regarding traffic and parking signage at the end of April.
Trustee McKay - Has been working on the Marketing Committee and with the Chamber of Commerce. This year Can Am Days will be July 18-20th. She is also on the Sackets Harbor Green Initiative Committee and the Zoning Re-write Committee.
The above summary is just some of the projects we've been working on over the past few months in the Village. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact the Village Office at (315) 646-3548. I am usually at the office every day. Thank you.
Michael R. Kinnie
Mayor of Sackets Harbor