Hurray……..winter is over. Things have started to busy up for the Village Commission. Topping the list of things to do is the preparation for the Lido Pool opening at the end of June. We are so happy to have Viola Hiltz still on board and rearing to go. What would we do without you Viola? And congratulations on your latest award, “Bar to the Service”. This one presented by the Lieutenant Governor no less. (See Masthead News March 13/13). Congrats also to the CVFD’s curling team who won the Provincials and played in the National Bonspiel in Saint John, NB.
We will be opening the public washrooms a bit earlier this year. They will be up and flushing on the first weekend in May. (4th and 5th)
The Commission is made up of volunteers who work very hard for the residents of the Village. Unfortunately things do not always go the way one hopes. Admittedly, the purchase of the new truck has dragged on far longer than anyone likes, despite the best efforts of all involved. But, finally, there will be a new 800 gal pumper built for the Chester Fire Department and delivered to us as soon as possible….(bear in mind, it takes a considerable amount of time to build).
There is also concern being addressed with the aging Fire Hall. An independent audit was conducted and determined the building to be structurally sound. So there has been insulation blown into the attic, new windows have been ordered, a new keyless entry will be installed and possibly new furnaces purchased. The cost of these necessary repairs will be covered by reserve funds and not added to the budget.
The Fire Department and its volunteer members are a major interest to the Village and this Commission. We are confident that the vast majority of our residents are completely confident that everything within the Commission’s power is being done to keep things running smoothly. This is due in no small part to the co-operation of the majority of our Fire Fighters (who mostly live outside our Village limits but inside the Service Area). The Chester Volunteer Fire Department has provided protection to the residents outside our village for many decades. There was no provision for compensation to the fire department for this protection and thus the Outside Area Contract was born. This is a mutually agreed upon arrangement that puts the Village under contract to provide the best possible service for the best possible price to residents who were not living in an area that has its own fire department. We feel that CVFD has more than lived up to the terms of this contract (the current contract will expire in 2016). The average tax rate for fire protection in the Municipality is 13 cents on $100/ assessment. We are proud to report that those homes and businesses covered by the Service Contract of the CVFD pay a rate of less than 7 cents (equal to and never more than the village rate). An audit of the fire calls handled by the CVFD over the past five years revealed that approximately 63% of calls are to residents outside the village limits.
So to anyone that is covered by the Chester Volunteer Fire Department, who has a complaint on the service provided, PLEASE voice your concerns to the Fire Chief or the Commission. With all sincerity our goal is to do the very best we can. To anyone who is unhappy with the terms of the contract and would like to have a fire hall built in your area or would prefer to be serviced by another fire department, we have no comment. That is something for all the residents in that area to decide upon. We have the confidence that the goal of the Councilors of our Municipality is no different from the goal of the Village Commissioners in that, their desire is to provide residents with the best possible service for the best possible price. The funds levied to cover the cost of fire protection have never been misused or misdirected by this or any other Commission. All monies go directly to fire operating budgets or fire reserves.
Moving on to other projects of the Commission, we have added a few more LED streetlights and converted the decorative lights along Water Street to LED. The savings from the 204 streetlights converted to LED in 2011 has more that covered the cost of the additional lights. Inspired by this project, the Commission has been diligently looking for more ways to cut costs or enhance services at no additional costs. One area of consideration is garbage collection. Preliminary figures presented at our monthly meeting of October 13, 2012 indicate that there could be as much as $75,000 annually saved by having our own contract with the collector. Under the provision of the MGA, Village Commissions can spend money on collecting, removing, managing and disposing of solid waste. The cost of waste collection is currently covered by an area rate and is based on assessed property value. The current rate for the village is $.09/$100 of assessment. That figure includes $.047/$100 of assessment for landfill and recycling costs and $.043/$100 of assessment for waste collection. You can see your cost as a separate line item on you property tax bill. The cost for landfill and recycling would not change, but conceivably the cost for collection paid in your Municipal taxes should be reduced by $.043 per $100 of assessment, based on current budget information. The current Municipal garbage contract expires in March of 2014 and this project is still very much in the preliminary stage. However, in January of this year, the Village Commission sent a letter to the Municipal Council to advise that we wish to enlist our own contractor for garbage collection and would not want to be included as part of their future negotiations. The Commission fully intends to pursue taking over garbage collection within the Village limits. At this point, the Commission has the option to increase service to the Village residents (weekly collection year round) or maintain the current service. The matter will be discussed at the May monthly meeting when the budget is presented.
The Annual Meeting for the Village of Chester Commission will be held on June 5, 2013 @ 7:00 pm at the St Stephen Parish Hall (corner of King and Regent Streets). There are two Commissioners whose term will expire; Michael Heisler and Tom Mulrooney. Candidates who wish to have information on the vacated positions should contact the Village office at 275-4482. Nominations to fill the positions will be called for from the floor at the AGM.
If you have any question, please do not hesitate to call our office or come to our monthly meetings, held the second Wednesday of every month. The meetings will no longer be held at the Fire Hall. As of April 10, 2013 our monthly meeting will be held at our office at 27 Pleasant St (across from Nicki’s Inn). The time will still be 7:00pm. Our monthly meetings are open to the public. If your group or organization would like to have the opportunity to speak at any of our meetings, you must apply in writing to the Clerk no less than two weeks in advance of the meeting.
Very Best Regards,
Brenda Mulrooney, Chair
Billy Zinck Jr, Vice Chair
Tom Mulrooney, Commissioner
Michael Heisler, Commissioner
Wynand Baerken (Dutch), Commissioner