Chatham hears village can borrow from itself, but…

CHATHAM–The Village Board heard a review from village accountant Robert Patterson before opening their meeting last Thursday, June 14. Village Treasurer Barbara Henry said after the meeting that Mr. Patterson told the board that a private audit of village finances could cost as much as $30,000 and if state auditors reviewed the books they would just look at internal systems, and Mr. Patterson said those are fine.

Ms. Henry also said that the accountant explained to the board and residents who were at the meeting that the board can lend money from the general fund to the Water and Sewer departments to cover the deficit, but those funds have to be repaid.

The village is currently running a deficit of about $370,000 for water and sewer services.

Ms. Henry said the Office of the State Comptroller allows the village use the money from the general fund, which Mr. Patterson compared to a savings account, for the short term to close the deficits as long as the village is taking some action to increase the revenues for water and sewer services. She said the state looks to see “that the village is doing something to reduce the deficit.”

Last month the village did increase the water and sewer rates by 65% effective June 1.

During her treasurer’s report to the board at the June meeting, Ms. Henry said that she and Mr. Patterson are working on closing the books for the 2017-18 budget and getting the end of the year report ready.

Also at the meeting:

• The hourly rate for village police services has increased from $24 to $25. The increase will affect the cost of closing Main Street during events, as well as police coverage at the county Fair, Sean’s Run and other events in the village

• Police Chief Peter Volkmann announced that Chatham Cares 4 U (CC4U), a program of the village Police Department that helps people find treatment for addiction, has received $1,700 in donations.

Chief Volkmann has been honored by PARRI (The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative) with a national leadership award for his work with CC4U. “It was humbling,” he said of receiving the award. He also said that the village will postpone the planting of a tree in honor of CC4U.

He reminded residents that school is out on June 22 and he thanked crossing guard Patricia Lucas for her service

• Melissa Sarris asked the board if she could put her 1960s-style phone booth that she has converted into an audio playing device in the Tracy Memorial Village Hall, where it will play stories about the village. She said in her proposal to the town that she would need help from Department of Public Works getting the phone booth in place, and she was willing to paint it.

She gave the board an outline of the “Sound Art Experience” proposal with a computer generated illustration of the “sturdy” structure, which is 7’ tall

“It’s a neat idea,” said Mayor Tom Curran but he said he’d have to talk to the other organizations that use the Tracy Memorial like the Town Court, the police and the food pantry. The village owns the building

• The board accepted bid to do paving work on Payn Avenue for an amount not to exceed $60,052. Phil Genovese from the DPW pointed out that the cost of blacktop had gone up 20% from last year. The board also approved the purchase of a truck and snow removal equipment for it for about $46,000 and $32,000 respectively

• Village Fire Chief Paul Rideout said in his report that the fire company spent much of Mother’s Day fighting an apartment fire that ended in a fatality of one the tenants. He said they were helped by other municipal fire companies and that the village fire company was also hosting a Mother’s Day brunch at the fire house. “It was a stressful day,” he said

• The village Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals are reviewing the proposed changes to the village zoning law. There was discussion about when the proposed law should go to County Planning Board for review. The board is hoping for a public hearing on the new law on September 5

• Trustee Gunnar Wordon is asking for volunteers to the Fair and Festivals committees. The village will celebrate its 150-year anniversary next year. “If anybody wants to get involved, let me know….I’d be happy to have you,” he said.

The next board meeting will be Thursday, July 12 at 7 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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