Village board member resigns; mayor says no tax hike in new budget

Mayor Paul Labas opened the Monday, Jan. 9 village board meeting with the announcement that trustee Lisa Ackert tendered her resignation effective immediately.

In her resignation letter, Ackert gave no reason for her decision but instead thanked the board, village officials and her constituents for the opportunity to serve them.

Speaking with the Granville Sentinel,Ackert said simply “it is a personal matter” and did not wish to make any further comments about her resignation.

Ackert’s board seat is now one of the two up for election this year, and the timing of her resignation adds a twist to her replacement.

Because the resignation falls within a 75-day window prior to the March village elections, her open seat cannot be placed on the ballot. So it cannot be voted on for a year in a special election, which would be for a one-year term.

In the meantime and under New York State Village Law, Mayor Labas and only Mayor Labas can appoint her replacement. It is not a village board decision.

That appointment would only be good until the board’s re-organizational meeting following the Village elections on March 21. At that time, the mayor would have to make an appointment for a year until the next village election cycle in 2024.

The mayor did not indicate whom he might have in mind for Ackert’s replacement or whether he intends to act now or wait until that re-organizational meeting.

Good news for taxpayers

At the December meeting, Mayor Labas promised good news about the 2023-24 budget. During the mayoral report portion of the meeting he read a statement about that upcoming budget, in which he said there would be no tax increase and only a 1% increase in spending.

Labas also promised that all village services would be maintained at current levels and that there would be no need to dip heavily into village reserves to maintain the current tax levy.

The icing on the cake, so to speak, came in his announcement that there would also be no increase in water or sewer rates.

Speaking to meeting attendees, the mayor said “while we cannot continue the practice of zero percent increases indefinitely, this is seen as some very positive news in current times for our constituents during a period of high inflation – including costs seen for fuel, energy and essentials like groceries and prescription drugs.”

The mayor thanked his department heads and fellow board members for their “hard work” to date and said he looked forward to more discussions as he prepares the tentative budget for presentation at their February meeting.

More good news

Village clerk Rick Roberts updated the board on the anticipated Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) grant on behalf of the village’s steering committee.

This grant will provide the village with an as-yet-unknown amount of federal dollars.

In its application, the village and partners stated “they would like to make connections between the multi-state Slate Valley Rail Trail and the Mettowee River with their Main Street and cultural campus which includes the Slate Valley Museum and the Pember Library and Museum of Natural History.”

The funds would also be used to clean up and repurpose vacant store fronts along Main Street to revitalize downtown and support the growing recreational economy.

Plans include projects to enhance walkability in the village and build on bike and kayak rental opportunities to boost residents’ health and reduce the environmental impact of transportation.

Granville was one of just 25 communities around the nation to receive this year’s round of grants, announced last November. Poultney, Vermont is a previous recipient, having seen its major employer, Green Mountain College, close its doors in 2019.

Kudos to the tractor parade organizers

The trustees heaped praise upon the parade’s organizers for what many thought was the best parade ever, with thousands of people lining the streets and 55 entrants parading down Main Street and several other village roadways.

There was heavy participation by local businesses, and all funds raised were donated to the Granville PTO for its backpack program, which sends students who are facing “food insecurity” home with meals especially for the weekends and vacation periods.

The question was raised about moving the parade to a Saturday night instead of its traditional Friday roll-off. The conflict with school sports was the reason behind the request. The organizers said they are considering that option.

Other news

The trustees approved three resolutions.

One expands the reach for law enforcement officers, allowing Chief Ernie Bassett to search out qualified civil service applicants who live within 25 miles of the village.

Another resolution eliminated the village voter registration day for lack of participation. Voters can still register at the village office or online. The village election was formally set for Tuesday, March 21, from noon to 9 p.m. at the village municipal building on Quaker Street.

The trustees approved the use of $10,000 from sewer department reserves and $10,000 in ARPA funding to replace filters at the wastewater treatment plant. These filters need to be changed every three to four years. The most recent round of testing on the village water supply came back clean with no reported contamination.

Carla Prehoda was appointed the new court clerk.