By Joshua Maloni
When the Village of Lewiston Board voted to raise taxes last month, trustees pledged to look for ways to lower expenses and increase revenue in the next budget.
Two ideas were discussed Monday at the monthly work session: one to raise parking ticket prices, and a second to chip in on a sewer vacuum/jet combination truck that would cut down on future cleanup costs.
The board will hold a public hearing prior to its May 20 meeting on the advisability of increasing the parking violation fee by $10. As it stands now, motorists are fined $15 if they park a vehicle on a roadway that is off-limits from 2-6 a.m. (Dec. 1 through April 1); $20 if they leave an automobile in an area that is prohibited or is a fire lane; and $50 if parking in a handicapped-designated spot.
The price bump could potentially bring in another $5,000 to $6,000, based on the number of parking tickets issued in the previous budget cycle.
Board members have said people don’t mind paying a $20 fine, as that is comparable to what someone might pay to park at an event in Buffalo. With a violation fee increase, trustees seek to discourage motorists from parking in restricted areas and jeopardizing both public safety and efficient traffic flow.
Late fees apply to violations not paid within three business days, and then again after 20 business days – unless the offender enters a plea of not guilty in Town of Lewiston Justice Court.
This law was last updated in 2007.
“It’s time,” Mayor Anne Welch said. “You park in the right spot, you don’t get a ticket.”
A second revenue idea came from Department of Public Works Superintendent Terry Brolinski.
He explained the Town of Porter Highway Department is considering the purchase of a $367,000 sewer vacuum/jet combination truck and is applying for grant money to cover 75% of the cost. Superintendent Scott Hillman broached the idea of the villages of Lewiston and Youngstown and towns of Lewiston, Cambria, Pendleton and Porter splitting the other 25%.
If the Village of Lewiston accepted this deal, it would be responsible for $15,291 under proposed terms of the six-way partnership.
Brolinski asked the board for permission to write a letter of intent, supporting the grant application. His request was approved by a 4-0 vote. Trustee Dan Gibson was excused from the work session.
Brolinski explained the new truck would be capable of more than just sucking out debris.
“It’s also a vac truck, so we can use it for catch basins, we can use it for wet wells, we can use it for manholes,” he said. Brolinski later added, “We can also use this truck as an excavation tool, because it also has a high-pressure nozzle on it to where we can actually dig holes with it.”
Without a dedicated vehicle to use, the DPW’s cost to clean out a clogged sewer pipe – say, for a grease trap infraction, for example – is $1,600 each time a truck is “rented.”
“And that’s just for a wet well. Now, if I add on my holding tanks – cleaning out sludge out of the holding tanks – I start adding certain manholes in, like Fourth and Center, where I have heavy grease buildup from the restaurants – that price goes up,” Brolinski said.
He noted a past fee was more than $3,000.
“$15,000? That’s a bargain,” Trustee Vic Eydt said of the potential partnership.
“This is a really good shared service idea,” Welch said. “When we go in with everybody, then everybody benefits, because the cost is lower to the community.”
Sewer Rate Increase Approved
Prior to the work session, a public hearing was held regarding a proposed 5-cent increase in the sewer rate. This fee is dictated by the 2019 sewer use agreement with the Town of Lewiston Water Pollution Control Center.
No residents were in attendance. Hearing no objections, trustees went on to vote in favor of raising the rate to $4.74 per 100 cubic feet of usage.
Residents will see the fee change in their next bill.