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Springville village is financially strong, according to external audit report

SPRINGVILLE — The village of Springville has exercised good cost control this year, according to then audit report generated by Laura Landers of Freed Maxick CPAs. The Springville Village Board members heard her report at their regular meeting, held Sept. 16.

Landers presented the full financial audit report to the members, including the village’s general fund and how it’s been affected by expenditures, as well as the cash flow and revenues from the village’s three major revenue sources: The water, sewer and electric funds. She said that her firm was able to issue an unqualified opinion, which means that the numbers represent the financial position and operations of the village’s governmental and business expenditures, which are both net positive at $1,320,000 and $937,000, respectively.

The village ended the fiscal year with $254,000 in reserve, with a $217,401 surplus on a $3 million operating budget. The village’s total budget is $8 million, including the gas, sewer and electric funds.

“Overall, two out of three [of those] funds are in sufficient cash flow and revenues,” Landers reported, noting that the sewer revenue is not currently within budget.

Despite that fund, Landers said that the village has exercised “Pretty good budgeting. That’s really what generated that surplus.”

In order to address the sewer fund, the board set an Oct. 7 public hearing, to discuss a sewer tax rate increase.

“It’s important for us to have [those revenue funds] well-managed, in order to provide the services we have provided for our residents, for so many years,” Springville Mayor William Krebs said.

The board does not have any proposed rate increases as of press time, but Krebs noted that “the sewer fund is not as healthy as it should be” and the board will seek to fix that, through a rate adjustment.

At that same Oct. 7 meeting, a public hearing will take place to address the Community Development Block Grant program, administered annually by the Housing and Urban Development Department. At that meeting, the board will hear about programs that residents would like to see supported, through those grants.

Krebs also presented two resolutions to the board that dealt with the Buffalo & Pittsburg Railroad right of way that the Erie-Cattaraugus Rail Trail Inc. organization is working to turn into a recreational use trail. That 27-mile trail stretches throughout the Western New York area, with 1.8 miles of that falling within Springville’s borders.

Although Krebs explained that the Springville board first passed resolutions in February 2009 that supported the conversion of that 1.8-mile right-of-way that falls within the village limits, as well as the entire trail, the B&P railroad must first transfer ownership of that space to ECRT.

“We can’t do anything until the ownership issue is resolved,” Krebs explained. “This abandoned industrial corridor could be a linear park, but right now, it’s a public safety issue.”

He added that the railroad “has no interest” in individual owners’ taking over parts of the corridor, like the 1.8 miles that fall within the village, which is why ECRT is working to take over the entire stretch.

“That’s the way it’s done, across the country,” Krebs added.

“It’s time for Springville to say that this is very important to us, that the county should support it, that we’re interested in moving this forward.”

The second resolution supported the conversion of the trail within Springville and stretching toward the South Cascade Drive and Miller Road Bridge, to create a corridor to the vista the bridge offers.

“As far as economic development goes, [the bridge] is a big draw,” Krebs explained. “Springville can act as a trailhead to go to the bridge, which really offers a nice vista. It would draw people to the trail and, by extension, to the village.”

The board also approved the proposed contract from TVGA, the firm that will provide leadership for the village’s master plan. The contract, which is not to exceed $20,000, will include guidance, regular progress reports and updates, revision and editing the plan and public involvement.

In other board matters:

– John Smithmeyer, a representative from Concord Post 431, addressed the board about the sign that Veteran of Foreign Wars post has erected on Zoar Valley Road.

“That sign was erected in about 2000, and we had the county come out and measure it, to see how far it had to be from the road, and we took it back even further,” Smithmeyer said. He added that, although the sign had been in that spot through a number of property owners, none of them had ever complained about it.

“I looked at the [village of Springville] regulations on signs and I see that they’re dated 2012. So, evidently, the village has changed the rules.”

Smithmeyer added that he had called Erie County officials and gotten permission to leave the sign where it was, and requested that the board also allow the sign to remain in place.

– Wendy Cocca addressed the board about the CROP walk, scheduled to take place in Springville on Oct. 6. That event is a sponsored walk which, according to Cocca, is intended to raise awareness about local, national and international hunger issues. A CROP walk had been in place in Springville for approximately 20 years, prior to its dissolution in 2001, but Cocca said it is being revived this year.

The village approved that event, with Krebs’ adding, “The CROP walk goes back to World War II, when it originated to help raise awareness of hunger in Europe, after the war. We hope it does well.”

– Superintendent of Public Works Karl Lux and Village Administrator Tim Horner were approved to attend the New York Conference of Mayors Public Works Training School and the New York Municipal Power Agency’s semiannual meeting.

– The board received notification from the New York State Department of Transportation that the South Cascade Drive and Miller Road Bridge will be closed from Sept. 23-27, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. for testing.

– Krebs has received six signed contracts for Main Street grants and the clock committee has raised the entirety of funds needed to erect the new clock in the park at the corner of Franklin and Mechanic streets. That clock has been ordered, and is expected to be installed by Christmas.

– The Western New York Scenic Byway, which includes the village of Springville, is now part of Visit Buffalo-Niagara, and will appear on its website and publcity materials.

– A tax sale of foreclosed properties will take place in Buffalo on Oct. 2. “This is what’s known as a foreclosure sale,” Krebs explained, adding that 41 properties within the village of Springville are in foreclosure and could be eligible, but that two are currently listed on that auction.

“That’s a lot of properties, for the village,” Krebs said. “Besides what these properties look like, they’re carrying three or more years of unpaid taxes.

When people don’t pay their property taxes and they’re foreclosed on, the county wants us to pay. So it’s very clear to us now, that the village is responsible to pay for the neglect and refusal of our neighbors to pay their taxes.

“We’re picking up the tab,” Krebs continued. “This is part of the reason we’re going to become very aggressive about how we’re dealing with distressed properties.”

The next village of Springville board meeting, including the aforementioned public hearings, will take place on Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at the municipal building.

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