Forestville in a ‘state’

FORESTVILLE – Mayor Linda Aures delivered a “state of the village of Forestville” address Tuesday. The message was in writing and Aures read it at the beginning of the village board meeting.

Aures warned the citizens there are many problems facing the village.

She said, “I want to make it clear that the problems facing the village are multifaceted and cannot and should not be laid solely upon the back of any one official or employee.”

Specifically she stated, “In too many instances, village records are incomplete, inaccurate and not easily accessible.”

“Much of the basic information and policy required to manage our local government is inadequate, unavailable or out of date. The lack of policies and sound financial record keeping reiterated throughout the Comptroller audit of the water fund are also reflected in other areas of our village financials, posing a risk and needing to be addressed. This situation has already cost taxpayers in many ways and holds promise for much more of the same if not addressed.

“Multiple deadlines are past and more are quickly approaching. Our community is at a crossroads. We cannot go back and yet we are clearly ill-prepared to go forward. Like many area communities we find ourselves in a vise. With the exception of the long needed and costly water system upgrade that we are still working on and have not even started paying off, on one side we are faced with a deteriorating infrastructure, stagnant home values and a small and shrinking tax base of residents and businesses. On the other side we are confronted with ever growing regulatory compliance requirements and increasing costs, all the while the pools of assistance are shrinking.”

Aures warned that changes would have to be made and people may comment that this is not the way things were done. She asked for input by the village residents, preferably in writing.

Aures promised an update at the Aug. 13 board meeting.

Later in the meeting Aures gave examples of unmet or fast-approaching deadlines: federal census information, reports to the New York State Comptroller including a corrective action plan; New York State Employees Retirement system; items for Chautauqua County, and to two separate vendors for insurance renewal.

The board agreed to temporarily increase clerk James White’s hours to 40 hours per week, and they also agreed to look into hiring two additional accounting personnel on a temporary basis to allow the clerical functions to be done in-house. One position would pay $9 per hour and the other $12 per hour

Village attorney Michael Sullivan advised the board that a call to the county personnel department would help them with job descriptions for the positions.

He also advised them that he would look at the contracts dealing with a proposed “ChautauquaWorks Work Exchange” candidate for the village. Trustee Ronald Lineman had questions about what liability the village would incur.

During the public comment part of the meeting, Kimberly Stott, former trustee, said when White was hired, he got $5 an hour more than the previous clerk because he was qualified. She wondered why the board now needed to increase his hours and hire two additional clerks to support him.

Stott took exception to the pay mentioned, especially the $12 per hour.

“John (Carpenter, village laborer) only gets $13. We should take better care of people we already have,” Stott said.

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