By Jann Wiswall

Several actions were taken by the Ellicottville Village Board at its meeting Monday, March 10 that may have a small impact on residents’ and businesses’ pocketbooks.

As has been reported for several years, the village must construct a new wastewater treatment plant per a state mandate. Construction of the $4.9 million plant is slated to begin in June and residents of both the town and village may see a small percentage increase (5 percent or less) in their sewer bills sometime this year.

The amount of the increase is not yet known, because the village has applied for a 0 percent NY Environmental Facilities Corporation loan. If that loan is received, the impact on sewer bills would be negligible.

In the meantime, the board authorized its engineering firm, Nussbaumer & Clarke, to request bids for fill suppliers. The firm wants to get the fill purchased and delivered to the site as soon as possible in order to start work on Lagoon #4.

Another ongoing challenge for the board is the village’s 100-year-old water system. As outlined by Jim Campolong, capital projects manager for Nussbaumer & Clarke, the village must begin collecting funds to pay for significant long-term repairs to the village water reservoir and water lines in order to ensure they can continue to carry enough water to serve resident’s needs, accommodate future development and supply fire hydrants for fire protection. He estimated costs could be as much as $1.25 million over several years, depending on the priority of repairs.

Campolong offered the board a funding strategy with one possible formula for raising monies for these future capital projects. It included a combination of water usage rate increases, changes to minimum usage amounts and a flat capital improvements fee.

While the board is unanimous in its agreement that funds must be raised, it does not necessarily agree that Nussbaumer & Clarke’s first pass at a formula is quite right. Mayor Charlie Coolidge asked the board to consider it as a starting point to be used for further discussion.

Board member Greg Cappelli noted that it will be critical to proactively communicate the issue to all water customers. He suggested the village prepare a letter to all users explaining the challenge. The rest of the board agreed and asked the mayor to draft a letter for its review.

Building Demolition Fee Increase

In other business, the board approved an increase for building demolition fees effective immediately. The past fee of $25 was determined to be extremely low compared to neighboring municipalities. Going forward, the fee to be charged by the village building inspector for residential demolition will be $50. For commercial properties of up to 2,000 square feet, the fee will be $200. For commercial properties of more than 2,000 square feet, the fee will be $200 plus $.05 for each additional square foot.

In addition, the board approved an increase of the village clerk’s fee for title searches. The fee will increase from $5 to $10.

Trash Collection Bid Awarded

Casella Resource Solutions was awarded the three-year contract for village garbage collection. The village received four bids for the service; Casella’s was the low bid.

Beginning Aug. 1, Casella will collect weekly garbage and recyclables, and it will make six “large trash” collections per year.

The next meeting of the village board is scheduled for Monday, April 13 at 6 p.m. in the Village/Town Hall. All are welcome