The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

July 24, 2013

Water rate change OK'd

By HOWARD BALABAN howard.balaban@journal-register.com
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — The Medina Village Board officially approved revised water and sewer rates at Monday’s meeting, marking the first changes to them in the past decade.

Mayor Andrew Meier said the significant increase was “necessitated” by such a long time between rate modifications.

“We need to catch up because we have some capital and infrastructure needs,” Meier said. “We need to get our funds in better shape.”

The base rate will increase by about $5, as described at a previous meeting.

Trustee Mark Kruzynski said the water rates cannot be forgotten at budget time.

“Let’s not do this every 10 years,” he said. The rest of the board agreed that the change this year will get the village up to par regarding rates, and there will be minimal increases going forward should the need arise.

Village Highway Superintendent Pete Houseknecht also discussed Medina’s water needs, specifically the village water tower. Houseknecht explained how the Health Department directed the village to review its water tower and any improvements it needs. He said updating it will be pricey.

“We’ll most likely have to borrow a significant amount of money to comply with (the Health Department’s) recommendations,” Houseknecht said. “At that time, rather than borrow again, we can include leak detection equipment in the project cost.”

Leak detection equipment costs somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000, depending on the kind of equipment purchased.

“When you’re doing an improvement project that costs this much, though, it’s best to build it into the expense,” Houseknecht said. He noted that early estimates for the water tower improvements are between $700,000 and $1.5 million.

The board also heard from Houseknecht about the recently implemented return to work policy. The new policy’s goal is part of an effort to lower self insurance premiums (workers compensation) costs.

“We’ll have employees come back to work at 50 percent, then 75 percent, and then 100 percent,” he said. “The department head would have to sign off on the limitations.” All limitations would be recommended by the employee’s physician.

The evaluation done by the county focused on highway and public works departments. “It was the largest amount of employees they could affect at once,” Houseknecht explained. He added that the employees’ union reviewed the policy and found no objections to it.

Trustee David Barhite applauded the new plan, and said he would like to see it done in other departments as well.

In other board news, the trustees approved the contract for two bands to perform in the Canal Basin on August 10 as part of a blues, bluegrass, and barbecue event put on by the village tourism committee. While the approval was unanimous, the cost of the bands was called into question. Ultimately, since the cost fell well within what was budgeted for the tourism committee, the contracts were signed.

The board also heard from some village firefighters. The first issue brought up was a proposed firefighters memorial, which was given the final go-ahead by the board. It will be located in front of City Hall. The second topic was a one-day event in which the fire department will look to educate the community on what goes on in the department on a daily basis.

The event is tentatively scheduled for September 14, and is going to be geared as both a “fun and educational” experience, according to the firefighters in attendance Monday night.

Finally, the board was visited by Mattie Zarpentine, a Holley resident with NY Revolution, a group trying to repeal the SAFE Act. Zarpentine asked the village leaders to pass a resolution speaking out against the legislation.

“Adding more laws is an infringement on our second amendment rights,” she explained about the SAFE Act’s impact. “Why should I need to register something I already safely own if I’ve already passed a background check?”

Zarpentine said the Town of Ridgeway and the villages of Medina, Lyndonville, and Albion are the only municipalities in Orleans County to not yet pass anti-SAFE resolutions. She said if they all do, it is believed that Orleans County would be the first in the state to have all of its governing bodies officially against the new law.