SALAMANCA – A new year brings a new president for the Salamanca City Common Council, as well as new projects, priorities and policies.
Councilman Ronald Ball will succeed Councilwoman Sandra Magera as president of the Council.
Before the Common Council meeting Wednesday, Mayor Carmen Vecchiarella laid out the process for developing and adopting the city’s operating budget for 2014, as well as a tentative list of projects for the coming year.
On Jan. 27, department heads, Council members and the mayor will draw up the tentative budget, which will be presented at the Feb. 12 Council meeting. Once adopted, the tentative budget will face public scrutiny at a hearing Feb. 19. Should the budget need modification, Vecchiarella said it would be taken care of immediately after the hearing to allow for adoption of the budget. According to state law, the budget process must be completed by the first week of March.
“I don’t believe we are inclined to raise taxes this year,” Vecchiarella said. “Last year, we had an increase of about 1.5 percent and collected less than $10,000. We seem to continually hit the same people. I don’t think we need to be raising taxes again.”
Vecchiarella also laid out his plan for projects in the coming year before the Council meeting.
Highlights of the plan include:
• Replacing an eight-inch drain pipe along Central and Wildwood avenues with 16-inch pipe. The work would be done in-house and is expected to cost about $10,000.
• Expansion of State Park Avenue, to include curbs and sidewalks. The project would also include the replacement of water and sewer lines under the road. It is expected to cost $3.5 million to $4 million.
• Patch and pave work on roads is expected to start around May 1. This project also will include replacement of between 2,000 and 3,000 sidewalk blocks throughout the city, completing the project started last year.
• Expansion of the Veterans’ Memorial Walls near the entrance to Veterans Park. Demand for memorialization of more veterans has created the need for more space at the monument, Vecchiarella said.
• Rebuilding Summit Avenue, Front Avenue and Center Street. The three roadways are deteriorating very badly, according to Patrick Reed, public works supervisor.
• Examining the possibility of moving the skating pond from its current location to an area that will allow for more use and better maintenance, according to Vecchiarella. The current facility depends on the freezing of three to four feet of ice. In many years, he said, the temperatures do not allow for that full freezing. Sites being considered would have a four- to five-inch-thick layer of ice with no water underneath.
A change in policy will occur in 2014 for nonprofit entities that seek funding from the city’s casino revenue pot, Vecchiarella said. The current policy is very lenient and does not have strong enforcement, the mayor said. A meeting with representatives of the city’s 501(c)3 entities will lay out criteria that the city will be using in future awards.