Village adds 20% to Fire Co., but meets state cap

CHATHAM–The Village Board approved a $1.2 million budget last week. This new budget is up about $25,200 from last year but still below the state mandated tax levy cap. Village fiscal years run from June through May.

“I feel it was a struggle to get to this point, but it’s a good budget,” said Mayor Tom Curran at the April 27 meeting. The only other board member to comment was Jay Rippel, who said, “Given what we’ve been given, it’s a budget I can live with.”

The one major increase came in the Fire Department budget, which went up from $148,877 to $179,386. The village recently purchased a new fire truck for the department. After the meeting, Village Treasurer Barbara Henry pointed out that budgets had gone down in most departments, including the Village Police and Public Works. There was also a savings in the 2017-18 budget for retiree medical insurance.

Another increase came on Central and Shared Services budget line, which, according to Ms. Henry, is for expenses associated with the Tracy Memorial/Village Hall building. The village owns the building, which houses the village clerk’s office, the village Police Department and Village Court. The Town of Chatham rents space from the village for its Town Court.

After the budget was adopted the board reviewed fees for renting space at the Tracy and other municipal buildings, including the fire house. Trustee Rippel said he would talk to the Fire Department about rental fees for the fire house before the board made any changes. Village Clerk Debra Meyers presented the board with old contracts showing the village board received money from the Fire Department when space at the building is rented for events unrelated to fire company activities.

Trustee Lenore Packet said she felt money from any rental at the fire house should be treated as revenue in the village budget.

The board did not make any decisions or announce what the fees would be for use of municipal properties, which also include the gazebo and the municipal parking lot next to the Tracy. The board is looking at fees that would cover the cost of clean-up by the Department of Public Works and the cost of added police, if needed.

Also discussed by the board were fines for restaurants in the village that do not clean out their grease traps. At a meeting earlier this month, Phil Genovese from the Village DPW said that he had conducted annual grease trap inspections and that several businesses hadn’t cleaned out their grease traps since last year. At the April 13 meeting, he said, “Grease doesn’t go away,” and that it can cause problems in the village sewer system. If any restaurants don’t clean out the grease, “We’re going to plug their sewer line,” he said.

At the April 27 board members said they would have to have a public hearing to establish fines for grease trap violations.

Also at the meeting:

• The board appointed Erin Costa temporary building inspector. Former Building Inspector Walt Simonsmeier was elected village justice in March. Ms. Costa was the secretary for both the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. The board will be advertising to fill those positions on a permanent basis

• Kelly Baccaro was appointed temporary court clerk for the village for a period “not to exceed three months.” Ms. Henry said the town is also looking for a court clerk. Mayor Curran said that that might be a position the village could share with other local municipalities. The board approved advertising for a new court clerk

• Ms. Meyers and Ms. Henry said that they had received a lot of calls from residents about late garbage and recycling pick-up in the village by County Waste. The village is about a year into a two-year contract with the company, but Ms. Meyers said it’s very hard to get in touch with someone at County Waste if there is an issue with pick-up. “They are not responsive to users,” she said. The board will write to the company about the complaints.

The next board meeting is Thursday, May 11 at 7 p.m. in the Tracy Memorial.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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