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Water rates will increase 14.7 percent

PENN YAN—First order of business during the May 18 meeting of the Penn Yan Village Board was a public hearing on a proposed increase in water and sewer rates. A 60 cent increase per 1.000 gallons of water from $4.08 to $4.68, a 14.7 percent increase was approved. A seven cent increase in sewer charges from $4.78 to $4.85 per 1,000 gallons, a 1.46 percent increase was also approved later in the meeting. Service charges would remain the same. The increase is effective June 1.
Village resident Carol Andersen said, “I think you need to learn how to be more efficient.” Former village trustee Robert Hoban added, “I didn’t hear the reason for the 60 cent increase. What will be the total revenue?”
Village clerk/treasurer Shawna Wilber responded, noting that some large leaks had been discovered. She said, “Compared to the last three or four years we’re basing this on 10 million less gallons sales based on consumption. In addition, because interest rates are so low, it shows a decrease of $28,000 in interest. Another large component of the change is the $19,500 increase in contributions to the NYS retirement program. The bulk of the changes are things we cannot control.”
Budgeting for crews to repair water and sewer line breaks is also a component. In the past the village budgeted for that on a 50/50 basis. Wilber said, “It’s known we have more water breaks than sewer breaks. We had to budget the crew rate accordingly.”
Municipal Utilities Board (MUB) Chairman Rom French said, “MUB has tried to keep water and sewer rates as low as possible. Water was lower.” In response to Anderson’s comments, French said the board is still working on a change in the philosophy of the billing structure, trying to convert to an Equivalent Dwelling Unit (EDU) system so rates are based more on usage. Wilber added, “There are some loose ends to be straightened out so when we roll out a new rate structure it’s fair.”
Hoban repeated his contention that the village doesn’t have to raise the rates. He said, “In the last two years you have gone from three to five employes. Waterloo charges $10 a month less for water.”
Trustee Wayne Davidson said, “One reason I ran is that I asked why not reduce or eliminate the service charge. I understand now why it can’t be done. We’re trying to figure out a system that will work.”
Wilber said, “Ultimately the board approved the water budget. If rates are not raised it would not accommodate the budget.”
Moving along, the next public hearing was on the proposed sewer increase. Hoban said, “The sewer budget has gone up. Jerusalem wasn’t asked to pay their bill.” The bill Hoban referred to was a disputed amount that the town was ordered to pay as a result of a court decision. However, part of that amount was not included in the payment because of the amount of time that had passed since the bill was sent to the town. French said the village is trying to schedule a meeting with Jerusalem and Mayor Bob Church said the village will try for a meeting with the town in early June.
Trustee Willie Allison said, “I understand the frustration about the cost but we must have a budget. We’ll move along with EDUs. This has gone on long enough. Church added, “I’m frustrated too.” He asked French to push EDUs.
Following the public hearings, trustees passed the increase in water and sewer rates as proposed.
In other business: The board discussed the report from the committee studying the fire department expenditures.
• An amendment to the Parks Comprehensive Plan has been submitted to Yates County Planning Board. Village Attorney Ed Brockman said the village may take action at the next village board meeting.
• Trustees discussed a project to clean up a portion of Sucker Brook that has been proposed by a group of Canandaigua Academy students. The project will be on private property and Brockman said he preferred the village does not give formal permission for the project.
• Trustees approved creation of a Community Revitalization Committee. Church will chair the committee which will include trustees Willie Allison and Wayne Davidson, Chamber of Commerce President Mike Linehan and Finger Lakes Economic Development Center Executive Director Steve Griffin. Business facade and housing rehabilitation programs have been available in the village for many years and currently there is $139,000 in the business facade program and $86,000 in the housing rehabilitation program. The committee was named to supervise, manage and oversee the program. Applications will be reviewed by the committee for grants/loans and then recommendations will be made to the village board for their approval or denial. The committee will establish specific procedures but the village will have the final say on the matter.
Two loan/grant applications were approved, contingent upon receipt of a personal guarantee. Roto Salt facade improvement loan/grant is for $25,000 and one for $9,000 for Dahlia’s Curios was also approved with the same requirement for a personal degree as well as a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic Commission.
• Brockman said Steve Hill has forms and questionnaires for all employees of the village as well as fire chiefs for the workplace violence prevention program. The law requires the unions also be involved. All work sites will be included including the village buildings on Elm Street, parks, DPW site and water and sewer plants.
• Trustees unanimously approved selling the Maxwell building to the Yates County Arts Center for $65,000.
• Mark Hulse was appointed police chief, effective March 6, the day he passed the test for chief, at a salary of $63,960.
• Trustees approved fire department members attending the Fire Expo in Harrisburg, Pa. at an estimated cost of $8,175 and attending the New York State Association of Fire Chief’s in Verona at an estimates cost of $9,700.
• Stanley Olevnik was appointed to the village planning board for a five year term and Cynthia Wallace was named as an alternate on the planning board.
The next meeting of the Penn Yan Village Board will be at 6 p.m. June 15 in the village office building on Elm Street.

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