From the Mayor:
Thank you for everyone that attended the Town Hall on Thursday, June 23. For those who weren’t able to attend, I wanted to give a brief overview.
I talked a little bit about the positive things happening in our Village that help make it such a great place to live. I touched on the recent water issues, infrastructure, our staff, the parks, our funding, the new feral cat program, and our ongoing efforts to help with the traffic.
I also talked about the difference between a CRA Zone, which is controlled by the Village, so not only do we have input into what goes there, but we receive the income tax dollars as well, and an Enterprise Zone, which is controlled by Madison County if there are tax incentives. In an enterprise zone, the county is the one to negotiate with developers, but no one receives income tax money without annexation, and property tax dollars have a different breakdown. With some of the upcoming development proposals, we have to be careful that we don’t say “no” too quickly, because we may lose all ability to have a say in what is built, in addition to losing out on receiving income tax money, while still providing some services and being affected by increased traffic.
Department of Finance
Finance director Becky Arnott gave an overview of the tax dollars that come into the Village, and gave a spending breakdown. She shared that we like to keep about six months reserve in our Capital Fund and that fund balance shows steady growth.
Department of Public Service
Public Service Director John Mitchell gave an update on the parks, the current updates to the south water tower, and the progress on the new traffic signal system for Taylor Blair and Rt. 40.
Chief of Police Chris Floyd talked about efforts the West Jefferson Police Department is making to deter speeders and encourage safe driving, some updates in staffing and equipment, some upcoming community involvement activities, and the great relationship they have developed with the warehouses and how that is benefiting the Village.
Department of Development
The Director and Chief Building Officer for the Department of Development, Tom Hale spoke about the work they do in their office, which because they service most of the county with inspections, brings development dollars into the Village, directly benefiting our residents.
The new IT manager, Mark Crosten introduced himself, and talked about needed upgrades to better serve residents. He mentioned online bill pay for utilities and taxes, and other necessary upgrades that have been neglected for too long.
Council President Mike Conway asked about solicitors and the permit process, and the new LED Village sign, which should be installed by mid-July. Chief Floyd explained the process for solicitors to get a permit, and suggested residents ask to see the permit, if they are concerned.
There were questions about the Village’s comprehensive plan, and it was noted that the Village does have such a plan, and is using it. John pointed out that it is a guideline and is being updated.
A suggestion was made for a traffic camera to be installed at the viaduct, but since that is not Village property, we cannot do that.
There were questions about the Sky Ranch development., and getting the money back on tap fees, and the answer was that we continue to meet with Russ Miller and his folks, and we will get our investment back. Council Vice President Linda Hall said that although part of the property was planted this spring, the phase one areas were not planted. Council member Samantha Cahill said that council is as frustrated by the delays as all the other residents are.
There was a question about a traffic light that was removed from Main Street, and if it could be reinstalled. John explained that Rt. 40 is not under Village control, however, we can do traffic studies, and if a new signal is shown to be needed, the process can be started. There was discussion on the pros and cons of a third light in town.
There were a few questions on the water tower and the new no truck signs, and the no parking signs near Garrette Park. A suggestion was made for loading and unloading in the nearby alley, but John explained why that isn’t a viable option. There was more discussion on signage near the park, and legal options.
A question was asked about the Taylor Blair signal, and if the sidewalks would be made handicapped accessible, and if there would be a pedestrian crossing signal system, and John said yes to both. There was discussion on the need for pedestrian crossing west of the viaduct, especially near the pool.
After the meeting, there was some more informal, one on one discussions. I am pleased to say that it was a great meeting, and hope that anyone who was unable to attend, won’t hesitate to ask me any additional questions. All department heads, the mayor and council were present.