A Year in Review; projections for Tioga County’s northeastern portion in 2015

What’s going on in municipal government in 2015? Here at The Owego Pennysaver we took a few minutes to ask the town and village officials of northeastern Tioga County what their major plans for 2015 include.

In the Village of Newark Valley, Mayor Jim Tornatore said, “We’re in the middle of so much stuff.”

Earlier this year, the village received a grant to help fund a sidewalk installation and replacement project on Whig Street. The mayor said, “It is our intent, if in fact the eventual award comes through, then we will plan the program to begin in early summer.”

“The other project right now,” said Tornatore, “is the renovation of the exterior of the municipal building, and that’s going well. The grant for the exterior of the municipal building was $195,000, matched with $195,000 from the village. That’s going smoothly. The contract has been awarded, the state has accepted it, and we plan work to begin on that sometime in April.”

Some of the things the project includes are refurbishing the brick, removing asbestos and lead paint, and improving drainage. The building was originally constructed in the 1880’s, so the upgrades are not just cosmetic. Tornatore added, “It’s a structural issue.”

Tornatore said that the village is still working on finding more funding for the planned project to take down the old Ladder Factory and replace it with a solar park. Although the village was awarded some funding in 2014, they will need to find much more if the project is to be completed as planned.

Berkshire Supervisor Ron McEwen said that there are not a lot of projects planned for his Berkshire in 2015. He stated, “This whole deal with the governor and the two percent cap limits our plans completely. We’re just trying to keep maintenance going with what’s already going on in the town right now.”

He added, “I wish we could be more aggressive with what we’re doing, but the economy in the Southern Tier just isn’t that good right now.”

Just to the north in Richford, Supervisor Martin Wilcox said that the town will be looking at the possibility of a new municipal building and highway garage. The current municipal building was constructed circa 1950. The existing highway garage is a cinder block building built in 1960 and, Wilcox said, “It’s poorly insulated and no longer adequate.”

Right now, plans for a new building are just in the very early phases of discussion. Wilcox said that there is no new location under consideration and that there are no definite plans as of now.

Throughout 2015, the town board will talk about starting a reserve fund for the building project. Although the town exceeded the state’s tax cap in this year’s budget, Richford currently has no debt and may consider bonding to fund the project at some point.

In addition to discussing options for a municipal building, Wilcox said that there are some planned equipment purchases. He added, “We want to replace the lawnmower tractor we’ve been using to mow our park and we’re looking to buy two new computers and a new photocopier.” Also, the town may buy a new trailer for the highway department.