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Springville electric bills to go up

SPRINGVILLE — Residents have had to stock up on firewood and turn up the thermostat as a result of dropping mercury, and next month, electric bills in the village of Springville will go up, because of rising fuel costs.

At the village board of trustee’s regular meeting, held on Feb. 18, Village Administrator Tim Horner reported that the bills will go up between 6 and 9 cents per kilowatt, because of scarcity of fuels such as propane, coal and natural gas, throughout North America and New York state. That increase is compared to other fuel companies, such as National Grid and New York State Electric and Gas Corporation, who are projected to raise costs by as much as 29 cents per kilowatt.

“This is a financial burden that is shared by everyone, across the county, the state and the country,” said Mayor William Krebs. “As always, financial payment plans and [Home Energy Assistance Program] applications are available in the village office, for those who need help.”

The village purchases power from two sources. The primary provider is New York Power Authority, a company that gleans hydroelectric power from the Niagara Falls dam, the closest source of that type of power. That company is contracted with the village until 2025, at what Krebs called “a reasonable, fairly consistent rate.” That rate was $60,262 per 5,409,000 kilowatts of power in March 2013 and this March, it will be $63,383 per 5,130,000 kilowatts. That cost is set by that authority.

When the village exceeds that level, another agency, the New York Municipal Power Agency, steps in with natural gas-powered fuel. That cost fluctuates more widely, since it is based on supply and demand of resources. Last year, the cost was $157,008 per 1,788,000 kilowatts. This year, usage has gone up 47 percent, to 2,630,496 kilowatts, at a 439 percent cost increase of $1,376,340 for extra power at the market price.

Horner also reported that he has received the New York State Comptroller’s report on fiscal stress monitoring system, an analysis that assesses municipalities for their fiscal management and how “stressed” their budgets are, compared to expenditures and revenue.

Springville received a score of 17 out of 100, when 45 or above is considered a “stressed” score. Most New York state municipalities are coming in at 40.

“We are really pleased,” Krebs said, of that score. “This shows sound financial management and will help us in our budget planning and our long-term planning.”

The board also passed Local Law B-2014, which allows the board to override the New York state property tax cap, if necessary. This provision is in place to allow for miscalculations on the part of the comptroller, and prevents the village from being fined if those calculations do not match up.

Krebs noted that it is a provision only, since the village has never exceeded the tax cap, since it was first instituted, several years ago.

In other board news:

– Springville received approval from Erie County for a Community Development Block Grant of $100,000 to pay for the demolition of the Springville Hotel.

The demolition occurred as an emergency measure because of the condition of the building.

– The board tabled a discussion on the Springville Volunteer Fire Company’s service award program with the village, at the department’s request.

– Resignations at the Springville Control Center were accepted from Holly Hunt and Timothy Jackson.

– Two sewer bills were forgiven, in the case of frozen pipes, for Bertrand Chaffee Hospital and Kody Sprague.

The next board meeting will take place at the village municipal building on Franklin Street at 7 p.m. on March 3.

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