County Legislature To Look Into Forestville Bailout

Financial aid may be on the way for the village of Forestville.

In an effort to aid the municipality in a time of financial stress, Chautauqua County is considering extending a loan to the village after debt was accrued because of a waterline project and emergency code enforcement demolition.

A tax increase of 445 percent was included in the village’s 2014-15 budget due to debt repayments, one in the amount of $150,000 for the waterline project, and $250,000 for the demolition.

The county is considering extending a “bridge loan” to the village until it is able to refinance the waterline project. The loan would allow the village to spread out payments over a longer term, with an interest rate of 2.5 percent.

Furthermore, $87,344 in landfill tipping fees paid by Forestville in 2009 would be refunded in exchange for 14 future years of demolition credits to which it would otherwise be entitled.

The resolution is contingent on an audit by the state Comptroller’s Office, of the village’s financial records from the past five years, and the village participating in a task force consisting of county officials to examine the viability of the village as a continuing municipal entity.

“I am very grateful for whatever the county can do for us,” said Forestville Mayor Kevin Johnson. “We lose 14 years of tipping fee (credits) but at least this takes care of the current situation.”

As for the task force, Johnson said he hopes it will guide the village to be more fiscally responsible.

County Executive Vince Horrigan said the funds to aid Forestville would be derived from the county’s capital reserves.

“The last thing we need is a 455 percent tax hike with citizens of Forestville foreclosing on their homes and not being able to pay their taxes,” he said. “This is the maximum we can do while still providing government efficiency. This kind of puts the county in a nearly neutral position.”

The matter will be fully discussed at Thursday’s meeting of the Audit and Control Committee, which is set for today in Mayville at 8:35 a.m.

The resolution will also be voted on by the full legislature at Wednesday’s meeting at 6:30 p.m. In the legislative chambers of the Gerace Office Building.

Forestville must also submit a final budget by April 30.