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Village board discusses high utility bills

WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen Village Board discussed this month’s high utility bills at their regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 1.  The village has reported turning off utilities at two different residences.   
Since the village is using more utilities this time of year, the village has to pay more for delivery fees as well.  Bills went out last Friday and Village Clerk Donna Beardsley is very concerned about utility bills getting paid, and is expecting to have some rough spots until April.  “It is a rough time of year for utilities.  Times are tough,” Beardsley said.  
Bills are due by the 20th of every month.  If they are not paid then the next bill that goes out, on the first of the next month, will include a shut off letter.  Residents have until the 20th to pay it.  If the bills are not paid by the 25th, the village has the authorization to shut off a resident’s utilities.  The village always tries to take into consideration holidays, weekends, etc. and will try to accommodate wherever they can, but the village just cannot give away free utilities.
The village also has a long list of 2009-10 unpaid property taxes that will be placed in the Feb. 10, 17, and 24, 2010 issues of the REVIEW&EXPRESS.  Unpaid amounts will be placed in the paper and the village will hold a tax certificate sale on Feb. 26.  
The village has received invoices from Schuyler County involving overall cost and rental of the shared public works facility.  The village is required to pay $500,000 plus a percentage of the bond.  Engineering services cost $69,000, plus an extra $14,000 for services that were added on.  The board agreed to take $419,651.77 out of appropriated funds to pay the county.  The village will take $300,000 from the electric department’s appropriated funds and $19,651.77 from the general appropriated fund.  The village’s street department, codes department, electric department, and superintendent of public works all share the building with the county.   
The board also approved to authorize an agreement with Schuyler County regarding secretarial services for the shared public works facility.  The village will pay someone for secretarial services, eight hours a week, which equals about $166.44 per week.  In case more or less hours are needed for services, “The county is willing to look at hours and how they are spent, and will work it out,” Mark Specchio, superintendent of public works said.  
The village is also looking into purchasing an employee time keeping module that will place a laptop or time clock in each village employee location.  They would be connected to the village’s server and will be sent to the payroll department.  The village has already set $15,000 aside for a software module and this particular module will most likely cost a little over $11,000.
The Watkins Glen Fire Department has also discovered an underground gas line that goes through the area where they would like to place their portable training facility.  The line reportedly feeds the U.S. Salt plant, and the facility cannot be placed without contacting New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG), who could have the power to stop the placement of the facility.  The building is planned to arrive Feb. 4.

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