Major infrastructure projects – either in the discussion stages or ready to start – will highlight this year for the Village of Elmore.
Village officials plan to break ground in the spring for a new wastewater treatment plant, which marks the third and final phase of sewer and treatment facility improvements needed to meet Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
The new plant, with a price tag of more than $5 million, is being financed through a 0.75 percent income tax increase approved by voters in 2006 and no-interest loans the village has secured through several agencies.
Village council and the administration have also been discussing the need for a second electrical substation. The current substation, which steps down high voltage power, was struck by lightning this summer, leaving much of the village without power for about 72 hours.
Estimates for a second sub-station range around $1 million.
The administration has also been holding talks with officials in Harris and Woodville townships and the Village of Woodville on the formation of a Joint Economic Development District on an 80-acre parcel that straddles land in all four jurisdictions.
Mayor Lowell Krumnow said waterlines need to be extended to the site before it would become a viable JEDD and finding financing for an extension from the Materion plant – where lines operated by the Ottawa County Regional Water System end - to Elmore remains the primary hurdle to the JEDD becoming a reality.
Cost estimates are $1 million a mile for extending the waterlines.
Rice Street, the village’s main business district, did see some development last year, with Johnnie’s Electric, Elmore Chiropractic, and the administration office of the Woodmore School District, locating offices in the downtown.
In Genoa, Mayor Mark Williams includes a mix of infrastructure projects with some entertainment-oriented ideas in the plans for the village this year.
The village expects to receive funding for the fifth phase of a major storm sewer project and it should proceed this year, the mayor said. Phase one of a water master plan, including an inventory of all hydrants and rating each for flow capacity, is expected to be completed this year.
Although the village has applied for a grant, Mayor Williams said the second phase of reconstructing Washington Street will probably not be funded this year.
The mayor said he also plans to work with the Ottawa County Transportation Authority to expand bus service for the village and the administration is looking at options for the annex by a former hardware store, including selling the property or continuing renovations to make it a more “viable property.”
Several other projects are in need of grants or other funding, according to the mayor, who said the village:
• Will work with Poggemeyer Design Group to find funding for a bridge crossing over Ashery Ditch.
• Renew efforts to secure grants for development of Veterans Park
• Work with the Ottawa Sandusky Seneca County Solid Waste District to continue funding for leaf and brush collection and apply for a grant for playground equipment.
• Continue to work with a committee that is seeking funding for the Elmore to Genoa leg of the Rails to Trails project.
The mayor also said the village will also try to reinvigorate the Genoa Farmers Market.
“We will try to find ways and ideas to energize the Farmers Market and explore again picking another day and possible location,” he said.
He said he is “hopeful” the Super Cruise-in event will grow in popularity.
For Millbury Mayor Mike Timmons and members of village council, this year will include researching new revenue sources for police service.
The village contracts with Lake Township for the service but revenues from a property tax levy that funds the service have been declining and village officials have asked for and received a waiver on a 3 percent increase that had been scheduled to go into effect this year.
The village has a 3-year contract with the township for police coverage and is currently paying $65,772 a year.
A 3-percent increase would have been about $1,973.
A 2.1-mill levy was enacted in 1984 and only generates about $15,000 annually – roughly what one mill would generate at today’s property valuations.
Village officials have had to routinely tap the general fund to make up the difference, Mayor Timmons said, adding the fund has been taking a hit due to the poor economy, state cutbacks, and falling property valuations.
“We are extremely satisfied with the service that we receive, from the outstanding dedication after the tornado, to the day-to-day coverage,” he said. ” We couldn’t ask for a better relationship with a police force. Our police contract is funded by a levy passed in the 80’s which now covers less than a quarter of the expense. We have been covering the rest out of the general fund, which takes away from other projects. This is not an emergency and council will take their time looking at various solutions.”
He said Millbury, like other villages, has dialed back on large-scale projects.
“We did complete a storm sewer upgrade on Case Street connecting to Main Street. Council has done an excellent job of managing finances during tight times. We are financially sound but do need to rearrange how we pay for some items,” the mayor said.
Among their goals for 2012, officials in the Village of Walbridge plan to continue to address property maintenance issues and a curb repair program.
Mayor Dan Wilczynski in the latest newsletter to residents said the administration plans to “continue implementation of our curb repair program similar to our street repair program.”
“We started our curb repair/replacement program with three blocks of curbs along Breckman,” he writes. “The curbs came out great and we have a bit of work to do on the road in this coming year.”
Portions of Raymond and Dixon streets were repaved and their bases improved.
Council and the mayor have a goal of establishing a five-year vision for recreational assets in the village.
“In working with the Lake Baseball Association we were able to install new drainage and add a different playing surface to the Railway baseball diamonds,” the mayor writes.
Although the municipal pool was opened and operated for the season, the administration is facing the probability that maintenance will be an on-going problem for the facility. Mayor Wilczynski said he and council are asking residents for their input on the matter.
Revenue from the village income tax and other sources were up for the first time since 2008, reaching $1.34 million. Spending reached $1.25 million.
The mayor attributes a tight rein on spending to a line item budget process implemented nine years ago.
He credits Police Chief Ken Frost, who was hired last year, for revamping the police department.
“We implemented a bike patrol on a trail basis that has proven attractive and successful,” the mayor said.
He also said the administration and council will renew efforts for economic development this year as the economy improves.
In 2009, the Lake Township trustees adopted a job creation initiative, hoping to build on the momentum from the recent creation of a Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) at the former Metcalf airfield.
The initiative was to focus primarily on the transportation industry, Richard Welling, a township trustee, said at the time.
“We decided we wanted to take more of a leadership role in promoting business and creating jobs,” he said. “We have the airport, rail yards, truck terminals, and interstates. We want to take advantage of that and try to create some jobs.”
The trustees held a summit that October, inviting a diverse group of township business owners, property owners, and residents to discuss job attraction and job retention as well as marketing strategies for the township, identifying regional resources and corridors poised for growth, streamlining governmental processes to assist development, and procuring grants.
More summits were planned but the June 2010 tornado that destroyed the township administration building and neighboring Lake High School forced the board of trustees to focus on rebuilding efforts.
The new township administration building opened this past spring.
Once again, the trustees plan to continue the jobs initiative.
“We will continue to work with our county and state partners to entice new business development, and retain the current workforce we have in the township. With the statewide edict of `regionalization,’ I see stronger bonds and communication with our neighbors to look at areas of shared service and regionalized approach to economic development and providing public service,” said Mark Hummer, township administrator.
Hummer, who is also the township police chief, said the township administration will be operating on a lean budget and work with neighboring communities on several projects.
“We will continue to work with our neighbors on the feasibility of combined emergency dispatching service, a regional Special Weapons and Tactics team, and work with our Lucas County neighbors to tie into their regional radio system,” he said.
Among the objectives Gibsonburg Mayor Greg Gerwin has set for the village in 2012, several are related to economic development.
“We want to improve the working relationship with our business community,” he said. “Their success and ours depends on teamwork and cooperation.”
Gerwin, who was elected in November, said he wants to partner with the Gibsonburg Community Improvement Corp. and “reinvigorate” it.
“We also want to continue to move forward on our industrial park,” the mayor said.
The village website promotes a 58-acre parcel zoned for light manufacturing and its proximity to electric and gas utilities as well as major highway systems. Last year, village officials authorized engineering design plans for the industrial park.
Mayor Gerwin said the village also plans to conduct a review of sewer lines and prepare a plan for repairing sections that are damaged and clogged.
Combination lines – sanitary and storm – will be repaired to stop water infiltration problems and an inventory will be undertaken to update the village’s schematic drawings of the sewer system.
Construction began last year on the final phase of a major water line upgrade loop.
The mayor credits joint meetings between the fire department, village, and Madison Township trustees for improving the department’s financial situation.
“It started out rocky but we ended up in the right place,” he said.
He credited fundraising efforts by the fire department for the “lion’s share” of the cost of upgrading a tanker truck for the department last year. The village and township paid for the balance.