Water rate, however, set to increase 11 cents
By Joshua Maloni
The Village of Lewiston Board of Trustees approved the 2018-19 budget on Monday.
Following two public hearings where no residents spoke, and a handful of work sessions before and after meetings, trustees opted to keep the property tax rate flat - at $7.38 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. They also voted to increase the water rate 11 cents, up to $3.70 per 100 cubic feet of usage.
This approved budget has a total amount of $3,590,059. If spending and income remain as projected over the next fiscal year, the municipality will need an appropriated fund balance of more than $250,000 to break even. Recent budgets have called for such a measure, but such reallocation hasn't been necessary.
Effective with the July 1 billing, the quarterly rate for water consumption will be $3.70. The 11-cent increase will offset the additional 15 cents per 1,000 gallons the Niagara County Water Board is charging the village.
"In December of last year, the Niagara County Legislature passed a resolution, proposed by the Niagara County Water District, of which we are a part, increasing the water rate to all of the participants from 75 cents per 1,000 gallons to 90 cents per 1,000 gallons," Deputy Treasurer Edward Walker said.
"We really have no choice; we need to pass this along," he added.
Walker noted residents paying $100, for example, would soon be charged $101.35.
Mayor Terry Collesano and trustees Vic Eydt and Nick Conde voted to approve the budget. Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland and Trustee Dan Gibson were out of town and excused from the meeting.
The fiscal year begins June 1. More budget details can be found HERE
Collesano, Eydt and Conde opted to table a motion to approve a local law that would enhance existing code pertaining to penalties levied upon motorists parking on private business property.
The law would state that no person shall park, stand, store or leave a motor vehicle or motorcycle upon any public or privately owned premises or property, parking areas or parking lot without the consent and permission of the owner or lessee of such premises, provided appropriate signage indicating these details is in place.
Counselor Joseph Leone said the existing measure lacks enforceability. He recommended the board take one of two options: revoke the current law, which would keep the Lewiston Police Department from enacting penalties on motorists parking on private business property, or approve the modification "so that there's some teeth in it" - meaning the ability to ticket and/or tow vehicles.
LPD Chief Frank Previte, on multiple occasions, has spoken out against the new law, saying the LPD should not get involved with such private disputes. He has said the department does not have the manpower nor does it want to assume responsibility for vehicles damaged by towing.
"I would ask that the board ... entertain possibly revoking that law," Previte said. "That would be my recommendation."
Collesano said, "We have some very strong feelings on the board, and we do not have a full board tonight."
The three board members tabled a request from a resident seeking to store a travel trailer in a driveway. They opted for more time to review the existing law.
Trustees and Leone also were asked to review local laws related to tents and usage of retail driveways.
Approved Monday was a request from the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce to allow retailers to hold a sidewalk sale during the 10 Mile Garage Sale weekend (June 9-11).
The board also adopted a resolution for a grant to assist in funding an electric car-charging station. Trustees are exploring the option of adding such an amenity to the village, though a station location has yet to be identified. One suggested option is a south corner of Academy Park.
The approved motion noted the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has funding available for the purchase of such charging stations. However, if a grant is awarded, the village would have to fund at least 20 percent of the total cost - which trustees pegged at between $25,000 and $30,000.