SPRINGVILLE — In 2005, the village of Springville had 62 properties whose unpaid property taxes were re-levied to Erie County, totaling $61,000 of lost revenue for the village. This year, that number totals 74 properties at almost $82,000. That’s 5 percent of the total revenue of the village, and the village board of trustees wants to do something about it.
“That’s $82,000 less that the village has to operate the general fund, this fiscal year,” Village Administrator Tim Horner explained. “The last nine years, there has been an increase in the number of taxpayers failing to pay taxes. We need to continue to address it and need the cooperation of Erie County, to correct the problem.”
Over the nine years Horner measured, the village has lost $266,800 in unpaid taxes.
“We all know this is a complex problem,” Springville Mayor William Krebs said. “[Erie County] Legislator John Mills said he’d work with us. I talked to his legislative assistant and we’re going to set up a meeting with Joe Maciejewski, in property taxes, and Maria White, in environment and planning. They know what the problem is, but I don’t know if they know the extent of the problem.
“We have to do something with our village stock, our homes,” Krebs continued, adding that 66 percent of buildings in Springville are 50 years old or older and “require some maintenance.
“We tried dangling the carrot, so to speak. We even had a little [property maintenance and financing] fair,” he added. “And we’re going to continue those efforts. When it comes to code enforcement, there are properties that need to be held accountable. We will work with Erie County to do that, who is responsible for managing those tax liens.”
Last summer, Horner brought the board a breakdown of what he called “property of concern” categories within the village: unpaid taxes, vacant properties, unmaintained and those with visible clutter, or hoarders. He added that he thought the properties that were not being maintained, which totalled 72, were of leading concern. During this meeting, he presented the trustees with a packet of sample materials, that might be used to get residents to bring their properties up to code.
Horner had recommended sending a letter to property owners whose parcel was not adequately maintained, including notices of their violations and the fines and actions that will be taken, if the violations are not remedied, within a specified time frame.
If those violations were not fixed within that time, the administrator suggested placing a sign on the property and a notice in the Journal that the village had notified the owner, “In an effort to bring to the village residence evidence that we are taking action and the property is not being ignored.”
Code Enforcement Officer Mike Kaleta said that the village code already had such time frames in place, for many violations, which could be specified in that letter.
The board approved Horner’s going ahead with that plan.
Krebs illuminated the assembled about the naming rights for the pocket park located at the corner of Main and Mechanic streets. Representatives from the Concord Historical Society had spoken at a previous meeting, requesting that the park be named Village Clock Park, to reference the clock that will be installed there, in early December.
“We started our own brainstorm list and did some research,” Krebs said. He explained that, when the original clock and park idea arose, in 2002, it was a joint project. The land was donated by M& T Bank to the Concord Historical Society, who then transferred the land to the village, because the bank was not allowed to donate directly to a municipality. According to Krebs’ research, internal memos specified that the park was to be named M&T Bank Park, to reflect that business’ contribution.
“My recommendation is to name it M&T Bank Park, who have served this community for 68 years and maintained that land until 2003, to commemorate M&T Bank’s long and helpful presence, in this community,” Krebs concluded.
The motion passed, naming the park M&T Bank Park.
The snow plowing contact with Erie County has been approved, after what Krebs called “lengthy negotiations with towns, the county and highway superintendents,” to set the rate.
The contract is a three-year agreement for the village to plow approximately half a mile of South Buffalo Street to Mill Street, which is classified as a county road.
The control center renovations are almost complete, and a tentative move-in date was set for Nov. 26.
The State Agency Resource Team met to discuss the village’s growth initiatives, the master plan and supplied “specific advice” for the village, according to Krebs.
He reported that the coalition of agencies gave the village advice on the New York Main projects, the art center and engaged in a “meaningful discussion” about how they can help the village’s plans come to fruition.
The board approved the annexation of property located at 14063 South Cascade Drive into the village of Springville, following a State Environmental Quality Review. The property is owned by Roloc Corporation, which intends to use the property as a multi-use commercial space, including the eventual relocation of Root 39 Salon.
At a joint meeting of the town of Concord and Springville, held on Oct. 10, that corporation provided evidence that the overall public interest of the communities, including the growth of business within the community and increased commercial services for the residents of the communities. Furthermore, the property includes a portion of the former Buffalo & Pittsburgh railbed, which will further the conversion of that trail into a multi-use recreational trail. Village water and sewer service will be extended, at a cost to the tenants.
The town of Concord also approved a similar resolution, at its regular board meeting.
The board determined that the annexation will have no measurable effect on the environment and declared the report negative.
The Springville Fire Department will purchase a new cutter, colloquially known as the “jaws of life,” to replace one with broken blades, that is approximately 20 years old. Fire Chief Dennis Dains reported that it would cost nearly as much to replace those blades as to buy a new cutter, so he asked the board’s approval to buy another one, at a rate of $5,295. Dains said the new tool is at least 10 pounds lighter than the old one and that it will be a budget-neutral purchase.
The request was approved.
A sewer line repair was approved for a pipe under Mill Street that had sheared. Village officials discovered that 3 feet of sewage was building up in a manhole because a 18-inch pipe was only allowing about 3 inches of water. Horner said he was concerned about leaving the pipe unrepaired because, with the increased volume that comes with winter snow melt, it could back up into the street and eventually, into Spring Creek.
The estimated $27,776 repair was awarded to a contractor who said he could reroute the sewage, while fixing the pipe. Horner noted that this contractor is the only person who can repair it, within the local area, which is why he only had one bid to present.
The motion passed, and the pipe will be repaired.
Krebs commented on a recent article in the Moneysaver, written by owner Mark Maussner, that criticized his participation in the One Region Forward smart growth initiative. He said that he would not normally publicly comment on an article that ran in a local publication, but that the story “shows a grave misunderstanding of what we have been about.
“Smart growth is a relatively new term, but we have been following those principles for a very long time,” Krebs added, referencing the village’s receiving Community Development Block Grants for sidewalks, back in the 1990s.
“It’s adaptive reuse with private investment,” he said, of projects like the future Art’s Cafe, located at 5 East Main St. and the renovations of the former Baptist church into the Springville Center for the Arts’ building.
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of and it’s not socialistic,” he said. “We will continue to move forward in [the village’s] best interest, no matter how complex or how vast the project is. We are going to do this because this is what’s best for Springville. The village trustees have never been misleading the public. Not in Springville.”
The next regular meeting of the board of trustees will take place at 7 p.m. on Dec. 2 at the municipal building.