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Guest Column: Mayor Keith T. Pierce

“About the budget ... and the election”

ODESSA, March 16, 2015 -- It’s a very important time in our Village. It’s the time of year when two very important things happen that will affect each and every one of our lives. Those two things are this year’s budget, and secondly, we get to elect the people we want to represent us in our Village government.

With regards to our first challenge in this year’s budget, I am happy to tell all of you that there will be no tax increase. Some of you may be asking how we can do that when every other level of government seems to raise our taxes each year. We accomplish this in two ways.

Your Village Board is extremely diligent when it comes to keeping cost down and, as a group; we are always looking for ways to streamline our operations. We do this in small ways. For instance, we were able to purchase a used leaf vacuum this year which greatly cuts down on the labor hours spent collecting leaf debris. One other efficiency we discovered this winter was when one of our salters broke down. We were faced with the decision to pay for costly repairs or to purchase a new spreader. While weighing our options, it was determined that we could easily get by with just one spreader, thus saving the Village money on an unnecessary purchase. These types of savings are all around us; you just need to have the people in line to look for them, and then act upon them.

I try to pride myself on getting the residents of our Village all the information we use to determine what our budget will be for each year. It may be interesting for you to know that if we would have raised our taxes to the maximum cap, it would have been around 1.01%. That would be the most we could do. With that increase, we would have increased our revenue by only about $2,500. Therefore, the decision was made to not increase anyone's taxes -- not for that amount especially, and because it seems your taxes are going up everywhere else you turn.

One of the only areas that we went over budget last year was in salt and snow removal. This is one of the hardest areas of the budget to predict. I think you will all agree that this has been one of the longest and coldest winters any of us can remember. It has also been one of the hardest on our Department of Public Works, whose members spent many a night out in that cold making sure the roads were safe for all of you to commute on. Even with all of those challenges, I think our roads were better maintained then they have ever been, and I would like to thank our DPW for their efforts this year.

Snow was not the only thing they were forced to deal with this year. For the first time in at least 30 years, as the “local old timers” tell me, we had several pipes freeze. In some places where we excavated these pipes, the frost line was as much as 4 feet deep. That’s unheard of in most winters. If any of you want a true winter experience, try standing out in -20 degree weather with a jackhammer for hours trying to get someone the water they need to get through the day! Our dedicated DPW guys and the gentlemen from Cookies Construction had to do that several times this year. We thank them all!

The second important event will take place this week, on Election Day. That's the day when all of you get to tell all of us if we are doing the job the way you want it to be done. This year, myself, Deputy Mayor Crane and Trustee Thoman are up for reelection. At this time, we are all running unopposed, but as we have seen in the past, that doesn’t mean we are a shoo-in for the post. Write-in candidates have an advantage in small-town elections. They don’t have to have their name out there, thus they don’t have to tell you where they fall on important issues, and because voter turnout is low when everyone is running unopposed, it only takes a few write-in votes to win the election.

My intention with telling you this information is not for you to feel sorry for anyone who might lose to a write-in candidate. It’s meant so that you will all go out and exercise your right to choose your representatives. Whether it’s this year’s list of candidates or a write-in candidate, just take part in the exercise. Your vote counts just as much as anyone else’s!

As is always the case, I am truly honored to be the Mayor of Odessa. I believe that in my terms in office, the Village Board has achieved many great advances. I also believe that this group of people are not done yet. We all have many ideas and many responsibilities to fulfill, including water-system upgrades, a proposed sewer collection system, and maybe even natural gas installed within the Village.

These types of changes take time and we have made great strides over the last few years to accomplish them. With your help this week, we hope to see them all to completion. I thank you all for your past votes of confidence, and look forward to serving you for another two years.

Keith T. Pierce
of Odessa




© The Odessa File 2015
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869