TIOGA COUNTY COMMUNITY PRESS
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The Town of Owego 2013 in Review by Donald Castellucci, Jr. Town of Owego Supervisor
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Four factors negatively affecting the budget are the economy, an approximate loss of assessment of 5.7 million dollars on top of last year’s loss of 8.9 million dollars (due to the flood), continued State mandates and continued loss of revenue at the Hickories Park. The 2013 amount of revenue lost was over $100,000. This followed a loss of revenue of approximately $300,000 in total for 2011 and 2012. It is anticipated that with the upgrades to Hickories Park, it running at full capacity and weather permitting, revenues will increase to expected averages in 2014. At Hickories Park we are upgrading infrastructure and buildings. Over 1.1 million dollars has been or will be expended and awaiting FEMA reimbursement. Also a new Dog Park, mostly funded by Adam Weitsman, will be operational in the spring. Sewer lines were added to campsites this fall, primarily funded by an anonymous donation the Town received. In 2014, the Town hopes to address the refurbishing of the band shell and re-paving certain areas of the park. A new rate structure is also being considered. When everything is complete, residents can expect an upgraded facility that is able to better handle storm events and recover more quickly than in the past. Our Highway Department is continuing to recover from flood damage, maintaining the current infrastructure and readying for a busy winter and spring season. Work completed last year included the installation of 2340 feet of drainage pipe. Twenty thousand tons of asphalt was applied to town roads (178 miles of paved roads are in town with 42 miles located in subdivisions). Eight thousand tons of gravel was put down on dirt roads (22 miles of dirt roads located in the town). The Foster Valley Road bridge replacement was completed. A temporary bridge was installed on Whittemore Road with a permanent replacement scheduled for early spring. The Town is anticipating $746,215.27 in FEMA reimbursement for highway expenditures. Beginning January 1, 2014, the minimum usage charge for water bills will be based on a minimum usage of up to six thousand gallons at a rate of $32.00, an increase of $2 plus the $6 dollar billing fee for a total of $38.00 dollars per cycle. There will be a charge of $4.50 per thousand/gallon for additional usage. Capital charges will increase $6.55 cents per billing cycle to $40.00 per cycle. The new capital charge per unit will be $120.00 per year increased from $100.35. Sewer bills will be based on a minimum usage up to six thousand gallons at the rate of $38.00, an increase of $2. There will be a charge of $ 5.00 per thousand gallons for additional usage. The capital charge per unit will remain
at $110.52, the same as 2013. Homes that have municipal sewer but do not have municipal water will be charged $324.00 per year ($108.00/bill) for sewer use and the sewer capital fee will remain at $110.52 per year. Many of the Utilities Department flood damage projects have been completed in 2013. Approximate damages to the department totaled 3.5 million dollars. Sewer work was completed on Broadway Road and 17C between Holiday Hill and Pine Knoll Road. Portions of the Lincolnshire Subdivision received upgraded water services and sanitary sewer main replacements. Sheet piling was completed to help protect the 24 inch sewer main located in the Apalachin Creek that was washed out in the 2011 flood. The storm sewer culvert located at Cold Springs Road was upgraded and is now open to foot traffic. Several important projects are still awaiting FEMA approval. These include the Main Street water pump house which could cost the Town approximately 750,000 if not approved. Mitigations at the Apalachin sewage treatment plant also need approval. A new State mandate regarding disinfection upgrades to the Owego sewage treatment plant which can cost the Town approximately $800,000 is on the horizon. The Town is anticipating $1,942,385.86 in FEMA reimbursement. My objective is to present numbers in an understandable manner that explains the narrative the Town has endured over the past three years. My goal, as well as the Board, has been to respond to the events and emergencies, assess the damage and create responsible, long term solutions. We have created a five-year plan to map out road improvements. We have estimated a five year rate structure for water and sewer rates (will be finalized shortly) so residents can plan for future costs. While both these plans could change with unforeseen circumstances, the Board is trying to address aging infrastructure, increasing costs as well as federal and state mandates. The beginning of a public works project on Newberry and Lancaster Roads in Crestview Heights will begin in 2014. I look forward to working with the residents of the Town over the next year. I would be remiss if I did not mention the loss of Lynne Davis. She was an asset to the Town and always had the residents’ interests at heart. Also let me welcome Craig Jochum to the Owego Town Board. We look forward to working with him as we address the Town's future needs. I am privileged to enter my 19th year in public service and I would like to personally thank all of the residents for that honor. May all of you have a Happy, Healthy and Blessed New Year!
A Night of Trivia to Benefit Vestal School Foundation The Vestal School Foundation’s 14th annual Trivia Night is scheduled for 6:30 pm Friday, January 31, 2014, in the Vestal Middle School cafeteria. Teams of 10 can register by contacting Barb Fox Carosella by phone at 786-3828 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cost is $350 per team. Deadline for registering is January 24. Trivia Night is the Vestal School Foundation’s main fundraiser each year, and helps the nonprofit group fund the many grants they award to supplement the work of Vestal students, teachers,
staff and parents. Since its inception in 1994, the Vestal School Foundation has awarded more than 300 grants totaling over $333,000 to teachers, staff, students and community members for projects designed to benefit the students of the Vestal Central School District. Grants this year funded a program from Kopernik Observatory & Science Center, “Stories in the Stars,” for Glenwood Elementary students as well as the upcoming Wanda K. Infantolino Chemistry Magic Shows at the Vestal High School.