WESTFIELD - During the public comment period of the monthly Westfield Village Board meeting, firefighter Jack Bills asked whether any progress had been made by the joint committee looking into the difficult relationship between the village, the Board of Fire Commissioners and the fire department. When the mayor answered that nothing further has been done, Bills suggested that the BOFC should be suspended pending the report of findings by the committee. That question was placed on the agenda for consideration at the regular April meeting.
The trustees passed a new sign ordinance developed by the Planning Board. No new digital signs will be allowed to go up in the village, and the ordinance clarifies the somewhat ambiguous existing rules about signage in the village. It also gives the board the ability to grant variances to the ordinance where it deems the changes to be appropriate.
The question was raised during the comment period about the cost of medical insurance for village employees. There has been concern that rising rates for existing coverage could cause serious budget problems. The employees' union wants coverage for participants to continue at the current level. Meetings were held March 17 with insurance representatives together with union officials in an attempt to reach an acceptable solution. Mayor Mike VandeVelde said that he believes a solution can be reached which will allow the village to stay within the existing tax cap.
Darlene Golibersuch asked about the parking lot behind the East Main Street stores, which she described as "ugly and dangerous, both to people and to tires." Public Works Superintendent Ed LeBarron responded that money is being set aside to have a new drainage system put in place and the area repaved. An amount of $15,000 was put aside for this purpose in last year's budget and it is expected that the same will be provided this year and the next. In the interim the potholes will be repaired, but major work must wait for funds to be available in the village budget.
Another question raised during the comment period was the PPA rate for electricity usage in the village. This rate went up sharply over the winter with the extreme cold. Village officials said that they expect the rate to be significantly less for this month's charges to residents, and will likely be back to the normal rate in another month.