Salamanca City Council Prepares For 2014 Budget, Talks Projects

SALAMANCA – A new year brings a new council president for the Salamanca City Common Council, as well as projections of new projects and policies.

Before the official meeting of the Common Council, Mayor Carmen Vecchiarella laid out the process for developing and adoption of the city’s operating budget for 2014, as well as a tentative list of projects for the city in the coming year.

Starting Jan. 27, in a one-day meeting with all of the department heads, council members and the mayor will meet to develop the tentative budget to be presented officially at a Feb. 12 meeting of the council. Once adopted, the tentative budget will then face public scrutiny at a hearing on Feb. 19. Should the budget need modifications, Vecchiarella said they would be taken care of immediately after the hearing to allow for complete adoption of the budget for the coming year. According to state law, the budget process must be completed by the first week of March.

“I don’t believe we are inclined to raise taxes this year,” Vecchiarella said. “Last year, we had an increase of about 1.5 percent and collected less than $10,000. We seem to continually hit the same people. I don’t think we need to be raising taxes again.”

Vecchiarella laid out his plan for projects in the coming year before taking to the courtroom for the regular meeting of the council. Highlights of the plan include:

Replacement of an 8-inch drain pipe along Central and Wildwood avenues with 16-inch pipe. The work would be in-house and is expected to cost about $10,000 to complete.

Expansion of State Park Avenue, to include curbs and sidewalks. The project would also include the replacement of water and sewer lines under the road. Project estimates are $3.5 to $4 million.

Patch and Pave work on roads is expected to start around May 1. This project will also include replacement of between 2,000 and 3,000 sidewalk blocks throughout the city, completing the project started last year.

Expansion of the Veterans’ Memorial Walls near the entrance to Vets Park. Demand for memorialization of more veterans has created the need for more space at the monument, Vecchiarella said.

Rebuild Summit Avenue, Front Avenue and Center Street. The roadways are deteriorating very badly, according to Patrick Reed, works supervisor.

Examine possibilities of moving the skating pond from its current location to an area that will allow for more use and better maintenance, according to Vecchiarella. The current facility relies on the freezing of up to 3 or 4 feet of ice. In many years, he said, the temperatures do not allow for that full freezing. Sites being considered would have a pond with a 4- to 5-inch thick layer of ice with no water underneath.

A change in policy will be taking place in 2014 for nonprofit entities that are looking for funding from the city’s casino revenue pot, Vecchiarella said. The current policy is very lenient and does not have strong enforcement. A meeting with representatives of the city’s 501(c) entities will lay out criteria that the city will be using in future awards.

In the coming year, Councilman Ronald Ball will succeed Councilwoman Sandra Magera as president of the council. The following appointments were also made to various boards:

Marilyn Harvey, two-year term on Community Action Board (Jan. 8, 2014 to Dec. 31, 2015)

April Vecchiarella, two-year term as Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator; two-year term as records access officer; two-year term as records management officer; two-year term as registrar of vital statistics

John M. Hart, two-year term city attorney

Ronald Ball, term commensurate with elected term (Jan. 8, 2014 to Dec. 31, 2014)

Robert Gibble to fill unexpired term of Lance Hoag (resigned), ending Jan. 31, 2015.

Alan Spears to a six-year term as city judge.

Gina Valent to five-year term on library board of trustees.

William Porter as alternate on Planning Commission for a two-year term.

Timothy Flannigan, to fill unexpired term of John O’Rourke (resigned) as alternate on Planning Commission until Dec. 31, 2015.

William Porter to a two-year term on the Board of Examining Plumbers.

Michael Lonto to a three-year term on the Recreation Committee.

The next regular meeting of the Salamanca City Common Council will be Wednesday at 7 p.m., in the new court room of the Ronald J. Yehl Municipal Building, 225 Wildwood Ave.