This year the Village has maintained the 2% tax cap. We have adhered to the Tax Cap and Tax Freeze legislation for the past seven years. For residents who are not aware of the NYS Tax Cap law, municipalities are allowed a 2% increase or the rate of inflation whichever is less. This is the first year we have seen a complete 2% margin – in years past the increases have been closer to 1%.
I tell you this information because we were very close to piercing the cap and even set a public hearing to create a local law to allow us to go beyond the 2% limit. Luckily, we were able to sharpen our pencils and created a budget robust enough to maintain services and expenditures within the 2% limit. Due to multiyear saving we are able to purchase large pieces of equipment such as a new street sweeper and bucket loader. We are also able to do the continual upgrades to our Water Treatment Plant, Waste Water Plant and distribution systems as well as major road repaving projects throughout the Village.
The Village Board also recognizes vital infrastructure that needs more attention than spare parts will allow. This is specifically the Waste Water Treatment Plant, its rehabilitation and those associated costs that will determine our future budgets.
Our Waste Water Treatment Plant has been running nonstop 24/7 since 1972. Over the past five years the list for parts and upgrades has grown extensively. The time has come that a major renovation has to occur. Fixing the plumbing, as any homeowner knows, is costly and not very showy, but this needs to be our focus as we move forward.
This year we will begin a number of steps that we hope will lead us to our goal.
We are adding an odor control element, RBC units and UV effluent purification to the plant. These pieces of equipment will be re-usable in a future plant but are necessary for the plants daily operation.
We will be doing the necessary engineering to develop plans for serious rehabilitation or a new plant.
We will begin to structure a multi-year economic strategy.
The search for grants and funding has already begun – as well as outreach to our elected representatives on the State and Federal level.
This will be a year of community outreach – “Waste Water Treatment 101” so that as a resident and stake holder you understand the challenges we face and the solutions we will work towards together.
This will potentially be one of the largest infrastructure projects in our recent history. It will be costly, but it represents a desire to prepare and ensure a strong future for our Village.
The above column, written by Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard, has been published in the May 9 issue of the Warwick Valley Dispatch.