WEST LAFAYETTE — Mayor Steve Bordenkircher presented the annual "State of the Village" report for village council on Monday, Jan. 22.
"As I start this address I need to acknowledge and thank my staff, the officers of the village, specifically, the fiscal officer (Sara Warne), village administrator, police chief (Stephen Klopfenstein), and fire chief (Glen Hill). All who work far more hours than they are paid for. If it were not for the efforts of these folks and their staffs, we would not have been able to accomplish the tasks put before us.
"When looking at how we performed financially in 2017, we tackled many challenges that I will address. The average of all village expenses over the last three years equals $1,589,708.53. The village is carrying $1,683,991.17 into 2018. The state would like us to have a carryover of approximately twelve months for emergency reserves. The village's aggregate reserves equal 105.93% of that goal overall but that percentage varies per fund. We still must remain vigilant and conservative with our spending.
"Our Village Fiscal Officer Sara Warne gave it her all to serve the village and take care of our fiscal responsibilities. Ms. Warne dealt with multiple challenges in the last year. She successfully recovered from a data loss / virus on her computer, worked to streamline village accounts, and reduced the village’s gas rate. She saved the village money by requesting to pay the Waste Water Treatment Plant loan off early. She was successful in saving village funds on Property and Casualty Insurance and AT&T Uverse costs. Sara trained a new tax administrator assistant prior to the tax season. She addressed tax rectifications and found additional withholding requirements, educated a large group of tax payers not paying estimated taxes as required and stopped non-allowed self-employment credits.
"Sara tackled a large document storage disposal backlog (spanning over 100 years). She implemented a new document storage disposal procedure to prevent future backlogs. She facilitated the transition to RITA, took the village through their 2015 and 2016 audit, and improved the injury reporting and time off tracking systems. Sara, worked on improvements to our disaster recovery plan. She developed a deposit policy, purchasing policy, setup ACH payments, and eliminated additional billing costs. When faced with a $16,000.00 increase for health insurance she found an insurance plan within our budget and established Health Savings Accounts for employees to ease the burden of additional costs. Finally, she located affordable financing for the new police cruiser (SUV).
"During 2018 she will continue to evaluate cost savings options that includes different operations software. She will strive to improve processes / procedures wherever possible. Sara was responsible for organizing and maintaining the Village Farmer’s Market in Burt Park.
"The West Lafayette Fire Department consists of 20 members which includes the Fire Chief, 2 Assistant Chiefs, 2 Captains, 3 Lieutenants, and 12 Firefighters. The Department equipment includes a brush truck, 3 engines, 1 tanker, 1 rescue truck, 2 utility vehicles, and a ranger. During 2017, the department responded to 158 calls. The Department’s detailed annual report is available for review at the village administration office.
"The Fire Department conducted numerous fire investigations. They completed fire prevention training, to include fire safety education in the elementary school. They distributed smoke detectors with batteries. The department completed hydrant and fire flow inspections, self-contained breathing apparatus tests, engine pump tests, monthly department training and equipment inspections. Chief Hill is also the Southeast Region Coordinator for the State Emergency Response Team.
"Other milestones in 2017 include the delivery of the 2017 Freightliner Tanker / Pumper in March 2017. A $10,000 grant from the Schooler Foundation and a $3,500 grant from MDRT Foundation, (Million Dollar Round Table Foundation) allowed the department to purchase an NFPA mandated washer and dryer to clean protective gear. This will help reduce exposure to hydrocarbons and other hazardous cancer-causing chemicals. Two sets of turnout gear, 1,000 feet of 3" hose, and 800 feet of 1 ¾ attack hose were purchased to replace worn equipment. In addition to the grants listed above the department received a $1,000 grant from Walmart.
"The old tanker was sold, and the proceeds were used to pay down the amount financed for the new tanker. In 2018 the department plans to convert Utility 609 into a light rescue unit and take Rescue 606 out of service. The old squad will be sold to recoup the cost of equipment for Utility 609. The department will begin writing specifications for a replacement engine that will be needed in the next few years. The department will continue with its outreach in the schools and civic organizations to support our fire prevention efforts. The department is submitting a FEMA grant request for a replacement engine. Finally, the department has submitted a grant to ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) for wildfire gear and commercial leaf blowers.
"The West Lafayette Police Department led by Chief Stephen Klopfenstein is made up of two corporals, a detective and three part-time officers. The department’s annual report is available to review in the village administration office. Some of the activities include 29 accident reports, 2,235 calls/complaints, 111 criminal arrests, and 290 traffic stops.
"During 2017 the department conducted the annual Easter Egg Hunt, Movie Night in the Park, and the Little Free Library, worked with the local Rotary club to establish the Cupboard for Help, The Cupboard for Help gained attention in central Ohio, resulting in a news story on NBC 4 out of Columbus Ohio.
"The new police cruiser, a SUV, was ordered with an expected delivery in March 2018. A patrolman was promoted to the rank of detective and the department is currently conducting its second year with the Too Good for Drugs Program. The department recommended a radio system for the school district and the purchase of a school district radio. The department made evidence room improvements and replaced shotguns in each cruiser. A new video camera system was installed at the police station.
"The department goals for 2018 include a prescription medication disposal box, creation of a safe exchange point that will be videotaped, a school crossing guard program, Taser equipment upgrades, and crime watch applications.
"The village administrator oversaw many projects during 2017, which included improvements to the storm sewer drainage on West Fourth Street and Burt Park, sewer catch basin repairs and improvements on West Russell Avenue, and in the alley behind Circle K. The traffic lights were updated by replacing the bulbs with LED bulbs. Paving projects included West Fourth Street, West Railroad Street, the alley between Main Street and Railroad Street from Kirk Street to Oak Street, portions of East Seventh Street and East Fifth Street. The village administrator’s office contended with a number dilapidated structure issues. The village administrator oversaw the development of the Wall Street / Johnson Street sewer extension project. While this project is still in a state of flux when it comes to funding, it is hoped that we will be able to further develop this project in 2018. Possible 2018 paving includes South Fair Street from Fourth Street to Russell Avenue, Wall Street from Union Avenue to Russell Avenue, East Wood Street (entire street), South King Street from Fifth Street to Sixth Street, and Sixth Street from Gay Street to Oak Avenue. The Band stand at Burt Park interior floor was coated with epoxy and the back deck was repaired.
"Village Council faced many challenges and made many positive moves for the village. Village council investigated aggregation (a method of reducing energy costs for village residents) and are moving forward with the option in 2018. The village adopted the Ohio Basic Code for law enforcement. This is available via the village web page. They made improvements to the zoning ordinance, and tightened the credit card use and purchasing policies. Council is evaluating the potential purchase of water from the city of Coshocton. This is a potential long-term project. Council is formulating additional questions for the City of Coshocton and once those questions are answered they intend to bring this to the village residents via a public meeting. Council approved the purchase of security camera systems for the Police Department, the Village Administration Building, the Water Treatment Plant, and the Sewer Plant.
"A special thank you and sincere appreciation to all the village employees, the street department employees John Newell and Shawn Moore, water and sewer operator David Kadri, Office Manager Shannon Haines, Tax Administrator Assistant Trisha Raymont, police officers, and firefighters for a job well done. Thank you to William Owens, our previous solicitor, and our current solicitor Bret Hillyer for their patience and guidance.
"I must thank the citizens and employees of the Village of West Lafayette for their support throughout 2017 and for your continued support in 2018. We continue to be plagued with issues of dilapidated structures that are difficult to deal with and are slow to progress. We hope that 2018 will prove to be a good year and that residents of the village will continue to take pride in their homes, and ensure that they personally make every effort to comply with village ordinances to ensure an attractive village that is not only attractive to those of us who are residents and call this home but to new business opportunities as well."