The annual state of the village summary was recently presented by West Lafayette Mayor, Stephen Bordenkircher. According to the summary, the village dealt with several financial challenges last year. In spite of those challenges, the village was reportedly able to carry over money, and all village funds remained in positive status as they went into 2017. The carry-over total was reported as $1,813,406.
Bordenkircher recognized village Fiscal Officer, Sara Warne for her diligence and dedication to the financial department. Warne began her duties with the village earlier last April. According to the summary, Warne was instrumental in several successful endeavors for the village that has proven a great benefit to the village. Among those benefits have been cost reduction, and interest rate improvement for the village, as well as improved procedures for more efficiency in the village fiscal, and tax administration departments. Warne assisted in revising the village's website which now lists a village events calendar as well as information for the rental of the Burt Park shelters.
Warne also assisted with several other departments (village administration, and police department) to improve fiscal and payroll procedures, and to assist the fire department to access bond to obtain the new tanker truck for the fire department. Warne also was instrumental in obtaining a new Pitney Bowes postage system for the village use to avoid transaction fees and implementing a new process with printing and copying that will assist in more cost saving. Warne worked on several other projects as well that have already begun to show benefit for the village.
Bordenkircher reported that as 2017 begins, the village is looking at possibly considering to move village income tax to the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) program due to the complexity of the tax laws. The village will continue to closely monitor and assess ways to improve management, save money, and gain additional funds for the village.
The village's fire department consists of eighteen members, which includes Fire Chief, Glen Hill, two Assistant Fire Chiefs, Damon Gould and Chad Haines, two Captains, three Lieutenants, and ten firefighters. Fourteen of those members have Class II fire-fighting rank. In 2016, the department responded to a total of 143 calls.
During 2016, the fire department completed specifications for a 2000 gallon tanker truck. The specifications were put out to bid with the council's approval, and the bid was awarded to Sutphen Corporation for a total of $247,000. The delivery of the new truck is expected sometime in February 2017. The department has provided training and education throughout the community in 2016. The department secured an additional four MARCS radios to improve emergency communication. The department's efforts and dedication have given them a class 4/8B rating.
In 2017, the fire department will be focusing on the purchase of a special heavy-duty washer & dryer to appropriately maintain the department's uniforms, protective clothing/ The estimated cost is $10,600 for both units. The need for the special washer/dryer is related to a specific coverage with worker's compensation n job-related incidents of cancer among firefighters. The special protective clothing must be specifically cleaned/ laundered.
The village's police force consists of seven members, four full-time, and three part-time positions. This includes Police Chief, Stephen Klopfenstein, two Corporal officers, Morgan Eckelberry and Larry Dusenberry, one full-time officer, and two part-time officers, and one special officer. 2016 brought the retirement of former Police Chief, Terry Mardis, and the hiring of the new Police Chief, Klopfenstein in April.
Chief Klopfenstein reportedly quickly stepped into his role and began his tasks with much ambition, and enthusiasm, and an interest in bridging the gap between the community and the police force. Within eight months, Chief Klopfenstein was able to gain funding through the Rotary for new bullet-proof vests, first aid kits, and ammo magazines for the department.
The Chief was instrumental in developing a neighborhood/ business watch program and introduced a bicycle patrol. Chief organized a Kids Carnival at Burt Park this past summer. The police department is also involved with the elementary students at Ridgewood to provide education on illegal substance abuse. The police department was involved in several other community-related endeavors this past year that were for the benefit of others. Chief Klopfenstein also proposed for a free library/ book exchange to be located near Burt Park. It was later approved and is funded by the village's Park Fund. A new shooting range was also developed near the village's sewer department facilities for the purpose of providing training for the police force.
Chief Klopfenstein was also instrumental in implementing the Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate (ALICE) program for the Ridgewood SchoolDistrictt.
During 2016, the police department responded to 2,255 calls, 35 accidents, 107 criminal arrests, 108 traffic arrests, 271 warnings, 1,170 follow-up calls. Among Chief Klopfenstein's goals for 2017, are to implement the Lexipol police manual, replace the department's shot guns, upgrade the police department headquarters, and work on upgrade of police vehicles, Taser equipment.
In 2016, another village position changed with the resignation of former Village Administrator, David Kadri, and the hiring of new part-time Village Administrator, Tom Grier in May. Grier, a certified electrician had completed previous work for the village, and a former council member with the City of Coshocton. Grier has worked on several projects this past year concerning safety procedures, and upgrading LED lighting. A number of new safety policies are planned for implementation in 2017.
In the short time, Grier has already helped the village to save money with some of the upgrades and improvements around the village.
In 2016, the village has improved on enforcing the noxious, dilapidated property ordinance. Work will begin soon on the Wall Street/ Johnson Road sewer improvements. More projects are also on tap for 2017, including LED lighting for the Police Department, and traffic light signals, repair storm sewer drains, continue street paving projects in the village, install three water isolation valves.
Mayor Bordenkircher recognized village employees, officers, and village council for their efforts, and dedication to the village in 2016, and going into the new year. Some of the accomplishments include, implementation of the new village employee handbook, the new village website that is internally controlled by the village administration, providing more cost savings for the village. The implementation of a new phone/ communication system to provide less expense to the village, and improve, and add a more advanced communication process.
Bordenkircher also recogonized, and gave special thanks to the village employees, the street department employees, John Newell, and Shawn Moore. The water and sewer employees, David Kadri, and Chris Savage. Office manager, Shannon Haines. Tax administrator, Franc Carpenter. The Police, and Fire Departments. Village Solicitor, William Owens.
The mayor also thanked the village citizens, and encouraged the citizens of West Lafayette to do their part to show their pride in their properties, and support the village's ordinances for maintaining their property. Bordenkircher reminded citizens that the village will be working toward adopting the Ohio Basic Code, and strongly enforce the regulations within the village Bordenkircher stated "In 2017, lets make our village a shining star".