Monticello sewer rates climbing
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Despite over $10 million in grants and loans secured for Monticello’s sewer system overhaul, the village board unanimously agreed on Tuesday to raise the sewer rates by 11 percent for inside-the-village users and 20 percent for outside users.
“The rates haven’t been raised in quite some time,” explained Glenn Gidaly of Barton and Loguidice, the engineering and consulting firm guiding Monticello through the overhaul, which includes replacement of pipes and the sewer plant.
Though he was not the architect of the rate increase, Gidaly further explained, “Even though there’s a lot of money in the grant and low-interest loan, the loan has to be paid back.”
And that will fall in part to village sewer users, who will begin seeing construction on the upgrades in April, with completion 15 months later and an expected useful life of at least 40 years, according to Gidaly.
Monticello resident Deb Mack expressed concern about the size of the rate increase, but Trustee TC Hutchins replied that the village is hoping to lessen that increase by negotiating special impact fees with several businesses looking to annex into Monticello.
Ex-Manager LiGreci keeps settlement
A desire by Trustee Larissa Bennett to revote and rescind the settlement package given to former Village Manager John LiGreci upon his firing never made it to a vote Tuesday.
“I did want to make a note that I was ill-advised. ... It was wrong,” said Bennett, referring to her vote last month to approve the package, which was an extra month of salary and benefits to LiGreci, who now stands indicted by a grand jury on allegations he tried to ramrod through a police officer candidate’s hiring.
Hutchins wanted to table it for an executive session, but Trustee Carmen Rue remarked that it wouldn’t be an appropriate topic for a private meeting.
Rue also wondered how the money might be recouped, as LiGreci had already received the check (estimated to be around $5,000).
Ultimately, no vote was held.
Hiring a new VM
LiGreci’s replacement is yet to be named, and Mayor Gordon Jenkins is temporarily serving in that capacity for an extra $3,000 a month.
Jenkins wanted to have a worksession to discuss defining the job, but Hutchins countered that “village law already states what the requirements are.”
He advocated advertising the job opening immediately, but that drew argument from Rue.
“How can we put in an ad when we haven’t even discussed the requirements we want?” she questioned.
“I don’t see anything wrong with a worksession [without advertising first],” said Jenkins.
Bennett moved to table the matter and discuss it in executive session a plan criticized by resident Tom Rue, who noted that discussing basic position requirements would not be a valid topic for a closed-door meeting.
The day after the meeting, Jenkins said the worksession will indeed be held publicly, at 6 p.m. at the village hall on Dec. 4 (an hour prior to the regular board meeting).
Salt again allowed
The recently-adopted law prohibiting the use of regular rock salt on village sidewalks was amended Tuesday to allow it.
That includes Broadway and its new sidewalks.
“It’s a beautiful job,” Mack noted. “If you use salt, aren’t you going to tear up the sidewalks?”
“No, it won’t,” replied Jenkins, who said he had spoken with a Penn State engineer who affirmed that salt would only discolor the sidewalk, and that would be easy to wash off.
Mack said that was not her experience at the post office on Broadway (where she’s the postmaster), but Code Enforcement Officer James Snowden replied that these new sidewalks were designed “to withstand salt.”
The amendment means residents and business owners won’t have to pay for more expensive calcium chloride to treat icy, snowy sidewalks, though a weight restriction remains on vehicles used to remove the snow and ice.
Concord, Apollo updates
The board also unanimously agreed to continue discussions with EPT and Empire Resorts over their plans to use village water for a proposed entertainment and hotel complex near the former Concord Resort.
Jenkins added that the village is also working on a variety of economic development projects, including furthering the Apollo Mall’s redevelopment.
“I assured him [potential developer Butch Resnick] that we would do everything possible to help him,” the mayor said.