WEST LAFAYETTE — Steven Bordenkircher, Mayor of West Lafayette, submitted his annual "State of the Village" report at the council meeting on Jan. 28.
"2018 was a year of challenges and accomplishments. As we began the year, we faced a vacancy in the village administration office and shortly afterwards the fiscal officer. During the first sixth months of the year the village hired a new Village Administrator, Heather Stoffer, and Fiscal Officer Amy Bourne. Many challenges were faced and overcome.
"As I start this address, I need to acknowledge and thank my staff, the officers of the village, specifically, the Fiscal Officer Amy Bourne, Village Administrator Heather Stoffer, 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 individuals and their staffs, we would not have been able to accomplish the tasks put before us.
When looking at how we performed financially in 2018, we tackled many challenges that I will address. With a budget of approximately $1,600,000.00, the village started the year with a carry over balance of $1,683,991.17. The state would like the village to have a carryover of approximately twelve months for emergency reserves. As we begin 2019 the carryover was $1,921,520.99. The village's aggregate reserves equal approximately 120% of that goal overall but that percentage varies per fund. We still must remain vigilant and conservative with our spending.
"Our Village Fiscal Officer Amy Bourne, while new to village administration, gave it her all to serve the village and take care of our fiscal responsibilities. She tackled new responsibilities in earnest attending numerous schools and seminars to get up to speed and very efficiently manage village finances. Ms. Bourne dealt with multiple challenges in the last year. She successfully reduced the cost and improved the village employee health insurance. She investigated and moved the village HSA (Health Savings account) to an HRA (Health Reimbursement Account) saving approximately $16,000.00. She worked as part of the IT team successfully moving the village IT system from a county-based system to an internal system that is projected to save the village $6,000.00 - $8000.00 per year. Amy Bourne successfully established the web based open check book system that allows total transparency of the village financial records. Ms. Bourne saved money moving to PEP (Public Entities Pool) for property and casualty insurance coverage. Finally, she worked on reducing risk of fraud by moving away from checks and doing more ACH payments (Visa, vision/dental insurance, 941’s, OPERS, OP&F)
"During 2019 she will continue to evaluate cost savings options that includes different operations software. She will strive to improve processes / procedures wherever possible. Ms. Bourne will also be a member of a team (Fiscal Officer, Village Administrator, and Police Chief) to review and revise the employee handbook and safety policies. Continue to look for other ACH possibilities (utilities, direct deposit payroll). Ms. Bourne will posture for the 2017-2018-year audit to be conducted in 2019. She will research financial software options. She will focus on additional training and obtain her notary certification.
"The West Lafayette Fire Department consists of 20 members which includes the fire chief, two assistant chiefs, two captains, three 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 2018, the department responded to 162 calls. The top areas for responses were the village with 53 calls, Lafayette Township with 49 calls and Oxford Township with 25 calls. 2017 fire losses were $24,700 and in 2018, $99,220. The department’s detailed annual report is available for review at the village administration office.
"During 2018 the fire department took delivery of new Protective Gear Washer and Dryer from 2017 FEMA Grant. They received the Ohio State Fire Marshal Equipment Grant for $10,000 that was used to purchase six sets of Turnout Gear and six SCBA Cylinders. They received a Shriners’ Grant for nine SCBA sight infrared cameras at $8,415. The department purchased two AED’s with donations from the Janusian Club of $2,550 and started a project to recommission Unit-609 to a Light Rescue Vehicle. The department worked 1,367.49 hours on emergency responses, 467.92 hours on vehicle and equipment inspections, and 320.5 hours in training.
"The department goals for 2019 included: 1) putting sight infrared cameras in service, 2) complete Light Rescue Project, 3) begin specifications for Engine 602 replacement, 4) meet with Lafayette and Oxford Townships to discuss .5 mill levy Increase, and 5) purchase new battery-operated rescue tools.
"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 13 accident reports, 1,984 calls/complaints, 10 felony arrests, and 376 traffic stops.
"During 2018 the department conducted the annual Easter Egg Hunt, Movie Night in the Park, and the kid’s carnival. In March 2018 the police department took delivery on a new SUV cruiser. With the help of grant money tasers were replaced with updated technology. School resource officers were assigned to the school district at no cost to the village. New surveillance equipment was purchased. A medicine disposal box was placed in the police department lobby courtesy of Rite Aid. The AXON application was established. Axon Citizen makes it easy for law enforcement agencies to securely receive evidence submissions from the community and manage that media in Evidence.com. Axon Citizen has two components:
"Axon Citizen for Communities allows agencies to create public evidence submission portals where the public can submit evidence during both large-scale and smaller, day-to-day events. Axon Citizen for Officers allows officers to send out individual invites to witnesses directly from Axon Capture or Evidence.com.
"The department goals for 2019 include updating patrol rifles and obtaining a ballistic shield. The chief is working to improve personal protective equipment, office equipment, and make building improvements. The chief intends to continue to work on additional vehicle purchases in 2019 as two of the current vehicles have in excess of 100,000 miles on them.
"Village Administrator Heather Stoffer joined the village staff in 2018 and oversaw many projects, which included:
"Working with the Ohio Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP) to accomplish a rate study for water/sewer rates (determined rates needed to be raised).
"She worked on the IT Switch with our IT consultant AJ Caldwell to get the move accomplished.
"She completed the Asset Management Plan in conjunction with Office Manager, Operators, Fiscal Officer, and Coshocton County GIS Specialists. She worked to get Asset Management inserted into the Mobile 311 application.
"She hired Ryan Cottrell, Sewer Operator in training, and established a training schedule for him to obtain proper licensing.
"She Interviewed four engineering firms to find the right one for the Johnson Street Sanitary Sewer Extension Project- Diversified Engineering was retained. Contractor BK Layer broke ground mid-December and the project is scheduled to be completed in early spring.
"She oversaw the taking over of billing and maintenance from Coshocton County for Pearl Valley Cheese and Fresno sanitary sewer customers.
"Along with Buildings and Properties Committee she enforced the dilapidated structures, trees, and trash ordinances, saying ‘Thank you to the residents who have been understanding and compliant’.
"Street Department, Community Service workers, and JFS Summer Youth program workers cleaned the streets and painted curbs in preparation for the West Lafayette Homecoming. Other accomplishments were the following:
"The Old West Lafayette sign at the village entrance near the Dollar General was redesigned. The old one was about to fall over. (Done with street department);
"The County Recycle bins were moved to a well-lit and 24-hour surveillance location across from the Village Offices.
"An empty lot the village owned was repurposed into a public parking area on Main Street;
"Assisted the Jared Mansfield Chapter National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution with the grave marker dedication ceremony for Revolutionary War Soldier;
"Accomplished mosquito spraying with the help of Newcomerstown;
"Initiated art projects on Village Buildings to spread positivity throughout the Village;
"Paving projects were completed on Fair Street, Wall Street, Wood Avenue, King Street, Sixth Street, and the alley behind Cabot Lumber.
"Leaf Pick up was rough at first (leaves fell slow and then after a heavy rain they all fell at same time), but we still finished by our projected completion date. Thank you to the residents who raked the leaves to the curb strips/streets.
"West Lafayette had its first Uncommon Christmas which included decorations made from recycled and donated materials (Thank you to Jones Metal, Cabot Lumber, and Bradford’s Auto).
"Goals for 2019 Ms. Stoffer started on the initial plans for the multiple phase park project for Waterworks Ball Field Park Area. Some features within this park would be a walking trail, restrooms, shade structures, playground, extra parking, and eventually a splash pad. We will apply for grants to complete the Waterworks park project in phases.
"Phase 1- Recreational Trails Program Application due Feb 2019
"Phase 2- Nature Works Local Projects Application due May/June 2019
"Complete the Johnson Street Sewer Project; Apply for grants from the USDA for police and street vehicles and police rifles; Getting an ASHRAE Level 2 Energy Audit through the Energy Efficiency Program for non-manufacturers: Once this audit is complete, we can apply for grants/loans through Ohio Development Services Agency for energy reduction mechanisms and cost savings for our municipal buildings. This audit will help to decide if it would be cost effective to consolidate our buildings or remodel the current ones. Throughout the Village, attempt to fix sidewalks that are bowed or broken along with repairing or replacing the handicap accessible areas of the sidewalks that are not in compliance. Finally, gearing up to make the transition to Coshocton water as smooth as possible for the residents, once an agreement is reached.
"Village Council faced many challenges and made many positive moves for the village. Village Council instituted aggregation (a method of reducing energy costs for village residents). Council presented the option of purchasing water from the city of Coshocton to residents and placed on the November ballot, which was passed with nearly a 2 to 1 margin. The water agreement negotiation team continues to work on the agreement with Coshocton. It is expected that this project will take approximately 2 years to complete. Council approved the open checkbook allowing total financial transparency. Employees were given a 2% pay increase for 2019.
"While I am saddened by the loss of Chase Bank, I am thrilled with the addition of Get Fit Nutrition providing 11 new jobs and our latest addition of the General Store adding three (3) full time and twelve (12) part time jobs to the community.
"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, Ryan Cottrell, Office Manager Shannon Haines, police officers, and firefighters for a job well done. Thank you, solicitor Bret Hillyer, for his patience and guidance. A special thank you to Lisa Stitler fiscal officer with the village of Newcomerstown for her help while we searched for a new fiscal officer.
"I must thank the citizens and employees of the Village of West Lafayette for their support throughout 2018 and for your continued support in 2019. We continue to be plagued with issues of dilapidated structures that are difficult to deal with and are slow to progress. We hope that 2019 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."