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Engineer chosen, budget passed

December 14, 2011
WESTFIELD — The Town of Westfield has taken another step towards fixing the water issue in Barcelona.

The Town has officially hired an engineer firm, Nussbaumer & Clarke which is out of Dunkirk. Now it is just a question of funding.

“We’re going to continue from different fronts,” Town Supervisor Martha Bills said.

In the meantime, the pressure in the failing lines has been reduced in the hopes of avoiding more breaks, but some residents, including some of the town’s board members, are having trouble flushing toilets are having to take low pressure showers.

“There’s not a lot you can do about it,” board member Jim Herbert said.

The firm was chosen out of the eight that applied based on its qualifications, not on any particular proposal to solve the problem, so specifics like what size pipes will be used or what the price tag for the project are still unknown at this time.

Also part of the agenda for the November meeting was the town’s budget. Before the meeting, the board held a public hearing, but no one in attendance had any comments.

Overall, the town did not exceed the tax cap with a 1.2 percent increase, and the coming year’s tax rates for those both inside and outside the Village of Westfield dropped a one cent compared to the current tax rate.

“We pretty much held the line on the budget,” Bills said.

In addition to the budget, the Town Board also held a hearing and a vote on a local law, recommended by the town’s attorney, giving the town the authorization to override the tax levy limit for the 2012 fiscal year only. Even though the budget did not go over the tax levy limit, the law was recommended to protect the town should changes to the law in the future create a situation where it does.

“We’re the first municipalities going through this,” Bills said.

During the hearing, Fred Johnson voiced his opposition to the law stating why tax payers would want to give anyone the ability to go any higher than the tax cap allows is beyond him. He said what the town should be focusing on is how to get tax rates closer to the national mean.

Town Attorney Joel Seachrist responded saying the law only applies to the 2012 budget. Since the state is still developing the law and there are still varying interpretations of the law, if law makers or courts change certain categories, the town could get in trouble in the future.

“I have recommended they should do it to be on the safe side,” Seachrist said. “This does not give the board a blank check to do what they want.”

Johnson was still against the law, asking why set the prescient.

The board voted unanimously for the budget and 4-1 for the local law.

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Article Photos

Photo by Jenna Loughlin
The Town of Westfield Board announced its choice for the engineering firm which will work on the Barcelona water issue and passed its 2012 budget at its last meeting. Seated, left to right, are: Jim Herbert, Town Board Member; David Spann, Town Board Member; Tim Smith, Town Clerk; Martha Bills, Town Supervisor; David Brown, Town Board Member; and Ray Schuster, Deputy Supervisor.



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