From the Desk of Owego Mayor Kevin Millar
Mayor Millar attended the New York Conference of Mayor’s Meeting on Feb. 10. Some of the topics presented were Community Rating System (CRS) for flood insurance and Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli spoke about the state budget and the cost of pensions to municipalities. The pension system balance recalculated in the last week in March to assess how much municipalities will need to pay for pensions. DiNapoli expects pension costs to come down, but he said it won’t hurt to light a candle and say a prayer on March 31.
The Community Rating System is a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) plan that encourages municipalities to maximize flood preparation by reducing flood insurance premiums if a municipality meets certain criteria. Village officials met with Jacob Tysz, Certified Flood Plain Manager (CFM) with Adkins Worldwide on Feb. 11 to discuss how the village can apply to be a CRS Community. It is a lengthy process, but Tysz thought that the village probably was doing enough already to earn points to get a rating of nine or eight and receive a reduction of 5 or 10 percent on flood premiums for all residents that have flood insurance. Participation will also reduce the flood insurance premiums that the village pays for municipal buildings. The village board voted on Feb. 3 to apply to become a CRS certified community. The Financial Restructuring Board for Local Government offers a comprehensive review of a municipality’s finances and operations and can recommend ways to improve fiscal stability and the delivery of public services.
Lisa Nagle, head planner for ELAN Planning, gave a presentation on the Tioga County NY Rising Community Reconstruction Plan that has been developed over the past several months. The Town and Village of Owego, Town and Village of Nichols, and the Town of Tioga are working together and are eligible to receive up to $3,000,000 each to mitigate flood damage.
The Village of Owego is looking to co-locate the Department of Public Works next to the town hall on Route 434 out of the flood plain, work on a storm water management system, develop a high tech business incubator in conjunction with Binghamton University, Cornell University and Corning Inc. to improve emergency preparedness and update zoning, site plan review and the flood damage prevention law.
It can be very frustrating to hear about studies and plans, but see no actual work. The funds to do any work are not considered without a plan or study to justify that expenditure. That sounds reasonable, but the time it takes to complete a plan or study can be frustrating.
The Owego Rotary has proposed a project to use some of the vacant spots in the village as community gardens or fruit tree plantings. They will be looking for locations to develop and if you are interested in one in your neighborhood call 687-3263.
The village board heard a presentation by Jim King of the Owego Emergency Services Squad on sustainability for the EMS Squad. The village board is interested in that and in keeping two full time EMT’s on the day shift. At the Feb. 3 board meeting a resolution was approved to hire a full time EMT to replace an EMT that left. The new EMT started on Feb. 10.
The Owego Fire Department did an outstanding job of containing a gas fire at the site of the new Owego Elementary School. What could have been a very dangerous situation was handled safely and professionally. Many thanks to our volunteer firefighters!