Bordenkircher delivers state of the village for West Lafayette

| January 24, 2017


As I start this address I need to acknowledge and thank my staff, the officers of the village, specifically, the fiscal officer, village administrator, police chief, and fire chief. All who work far more hours than they are paid for. If it were not for the efforts of these folks and their staff, we would not have been able to accomplish the tasks put before us.

When looking at how we performed financially in 2016, we tackled many challenges that I will address. Yet, we came through the year with a greater carryover financially than the previous year. In 2016 we started the year with $1,433,225.87, which was the carryover balance of 2015. As we closed 2016 and moved into 2017 we carried over $1,813,406.45. We had carryovers in the positive column in all the major village fund categories.

Our village fiscal officer Sara Warne worked diligently to serve the village and take care of our fiscal responsibilities. Ms. Warne dealt with multiple challenges in the last year. She also worked to get our energy rates down and to get a higher interest rate on our money market savings account by negotiating with multiple banks. She was able to obtain tax training for herself and our part-time tax administrator at no cost to the village. She implemented new tax procedures for the village which include: monthly balancing, filing by batch, tracking all corrections, printing tax forms in house to save taxpayer dollars, and initiated going green to save tax dollars. Ms. Warne set the village up on the OBG (the Ohio Business Gateway) to receive tax payments per statute and created new tax forms. She assisted the mayor in revising and updating the village web page for clear direction. The revamped village website now contains calendars on the events page which shows the availability of Burt Park, as well as Council meetings, committee meetings, and other administrative proceedings.

After assuming tax administration duties in late April, 2016, Ms. Warne organized the tax file room and continues to work through tax account rectifications as required. Ms. Warne identified tax reporting errors within our software provider’s package and has continued to address and correct those errors. She implemented and updated confidentiality procedures, village employment applications and emergency medical forms. She worked with the new village administrator and police chief regarding the fiscal and payroll procedures. She worked with bond counsel regarding the fire department tanker truck loan and in the process discovered errors making necessary corrections to the village’s benefit. Ms. Warne implemented a new Pitney Bowes postage machine procedure to eliminate transaction fees every time the machine is loaded with postage and she negotiated new printer/copier rates for the village. She implemented a printer code within our printer copier to track the use and costs associated with printing and copying. She worked with OPERS to rectify an error stemming from 2008. She implemented paid time off and overtime procedures for clarification. She improved the purchase order process so the village council has a clear picture of what is being purchased. She worked with AT&T to implement a new telephone system after comparing costs with Time Warner and other options. The new telephone system brought the village up to speed with much more current technology, providing a secure telephone system with secure voice mail and voicemail to email as well. She also worked diligently to ensure that we received the appropriate credits for the village which are now paid 100%.

Looking to 2017, Ms. Warne will continue to review taxpayer’s accounts over the last three years during the village’s multiple transitions. The village is considering moving our tax administration due to the complexity of the of the tax law to RITA which is the Regional Income Tax Agency. The potential savings may well outweigh the cost of the service. Ms. Warne will play a key role in this research and decision-making process. She will continue throughout 2017 to improve, stream line and simplify procedures, and continue to implement procedures that offer clarity. She will prepare for and take the village through its required audit in 2017. She will evaluate ACH options that we are not taking advantage of and continue to evaluate possible cost-saving options to the village.

Our fire department consists of 18 members. Those 18 members are Fire Chief Glenn Hill, two assistant fire chiefs (Damon Gould and Chad Haines), two captains, three lieutenants and 10 firefighters. 14 of those firefighters have a class two rating. During 2016, the department responded to 143 calls. They breakdown as follows, 44 fire calls, 1 overpressure rupture no fire, 50 rescue emergency medical service incident calls, 21 hazardous condition no fire, 3 services calls, 9 good intent calls, 13 false alarms, 2 special incident type calls. With 143 total calls, 2016 had the lowest number of runs in the last 5 years. By area, those calls broke down as follows, in the village 39 calls, Lafayette Township 34 calls, Linton Township 21 calls, Oxford Township 18 calls, and White Eyes Township 17 calls. Mondays and Thursdays were the busiest days of the week with the highest number of calls which came in between 4:01 p.m. and 11:59 p.m.

During 2016 the fire department under the directions of Chief Hill completed the specifications for a 2000-gallon tanker truck. Those specifications were put out for bid and with council’s approval the bid was awarded to the Sutphen Corporation in the amount of $247,000.00. Delivery of the new fire truck is expected in February 2017. The fire chief conducted multiple fire inspections which included the Ridgewood Schools and other local businesses. The chief acted as fire instructor for the fire department, and regional coordinator for district eight Ohio Fire Chiefs Association. The fire department worked with the Janusian Women’s Club to hand out smoke detectors to kindergarten students and batteries to first graders.  During October, the fire department worked with the school during fire prevention week. They monitored fire and tornado drills in schools, Lafayette Point, and The Meadows.

The fire department also secured an additional 4 MARCS radios for the department to improve department emergency communication. Thanks to the efforts of the fire department the village and areas it serves enjoys a rating of class 4/8B.

In 2017, with the passing of SB27, that extends workers compensation coverage to firefighters for job related cancer, along with NFPA standard 1851 regarding protective clothing, the department and the village will be challenged with the need to purchase a heavy duty washing machine and dryer to properly maintain their turn gear (protective clothing). The estimated cost for doing so is $10,000.00 for a washer and $600.00 for a dryer. The department strives to keep the village safe and sound as we move into 2017.

Our police department consists of 7 members. Those 7 members (4 full time and 3 part time) are Police Chief Stephen Klopfenstein, two corporals (Morgan Eckelberry and Larry Dusenberry), one full time and 2 part time patrolmen, and one special officer. For the Police Department 2016 was a bit of a bittersweet year. We saw the retirement of Chief Terry Mardis and we began a search for a new police chief. We were very fortunate to find our new Police Chief Stephen Klopfenstein, who joined the department in April 2016. Chief Klopfenstein has proven to be a tremendous asset to the department and the Village of West Lafayette. During his first eight months, the chief was able to secure a donation from the West Lafayette Rotary Club which led to the purchase of bulletproof vests for the officers and first aid bags, as well as ammo magazines for the officers and vehicles in the Police Department. Additionally, he was instrumental in developing a community and business watch program, and introduced a bicycle patrol. The chief put together a wonderful children’s carnival in Burt Park to foster a good relationship between the Police Department and the youth of the community. He presented a program titled Too Good for Drugs to the first graders at the Ridgewood Elementary School. The department participated in the Chamber of Commerce Halloween event. A shooting range located near the sewage treatment plant was developed for police training. The department provided food for three families for Thanksgiving and provided Christmas for three families during the Christmas season. The chief proposed the purchase of the little free library that will be in Burt Park. It was approved and funded by the Park Fund. In addition, the police chief along with the department developed a food bank to be maintained by the department for local citizens.

The chief was instrumental in completing ALICE training in the Ridgewood schools. ALICE stands for or Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. The ALICE training is intended to assist in the preparation and planning for individual organizations on how to more proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter event. Whether it is an attack by an individual person or by an international group of professionals intent on conveying a political message through violence, ALICE training option-based tactics have become the accepted response versus the traditional lockdown only approach.

During 2016, the department handled 35 accident reports, 2,255 calls and complaints, 107 criminal arrest, 47 domestic incidents, 9 felony cases, 1,170 follow-ups, 108 traffic arrest, 321 traffic stops, 271 warnings, the department drove 24,175 miles on patrol, and consumed 3,385.99 gallons of fuel.

In 2017 the police chief’s goals include the implementation of the LEXIPOL policy manual, replace police shotguns, upgrades inside and outside of the police department building, work on vehicle replacement rotation, and TASER equipment replacement and upgrades.

During 2016 the Village Administrator David Kadri accepted the position of operator III at the water and sewer treatment plants, leaving the village administrator position open. We began our search for a new village administrator and in May of 2016 we hired Tom Grier as a part-time village administrator. Tom brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to the village. Tom spent a lifetime working as a certified electrician and working on many projects within the village. Tom also has many years of experience as a city council member with the city of Coshocton which made him uniquely qualified for the position.

During Tom’s early days as the village administrator, at our request, he was involved with the Ohio BWC division of safety and hygiene safety inspection of the village work areas. Thus, we found that there were a number of safety violations within the village. As a result, there has been an ongoing effort to maintain the village as a safe and healthy workplace for village employees. Safety procedures and manuals are still under development and we have recently completed a hazard communications policy. A number of policies will be implemented during 2017 as well to ensure that the village is maintained in such a fashion to ensure the safe workplace for village employees.

Under the village administrator’s direction the following projects were completed in 2016. (1) Cut in new main water shut-off valve to help isolate north end of the village from the south end, (2) Installed new LED lighting in the equipment storage garage to improve safety and energy consumption, (3) Installed new power receptacles and LED lighting in street garage to improve safety and energy consumption, (4) Addressed Worker’s Compensation safety audit concerns, (5) Installed new wiring, Ground Fault Interrupter receptacles, and LED security lights in the rotary pavilion at Burt Park, (6) $126,873.01 worth of Street paving, the west end of Fairview Street, the south end of Oak Street, the east end of Railroad Street, Indian Circle, the western portions of Seventh Street , and a portion of North George Street, (7) $53,711.45 was paid by a grant and the balance of $73,161.56 was the village share, and (8) Made LED lighting improvements for the Police Department.  This work was done by village administrator and village employees saving the village thousands of dollars.

Also included during 2016 the village adopted and enforced stricter noxious property ordinances, started preliminary work on Wall Street /Johnson Street sewer improvements. An engineering firm has been retained and design work will begin in 2017.

Projects in 2017 include finishing LED lighting improvements for the Police Department, repair storm drains and standing water issues, continue with street paving projects (Fifth Street (SR 93 to Center Street), Seventh Street (King Street to Fair Street), George Street (Stewart Street to Water Street), Fourth Street (Kirk Street to Oak Street), West Railroad Street (Oak Street to Vine), install three water isolation valves ,and install LED traffic light signals, and continue with the Wall Street /Johnson Street Sewer Extension Project.

Efforts by a number of village employees, officers, and Council members were made during 2016 to ensure fiscal responsibility, a safe workplace for the employees and to provide clear direction to the employees of the village. As a part of that process we successfully developed and implemented an employee handbook which has been talked about many times in the past but was never developed or implemented in the village. The development of our own webpage that is totally controlled internally within the village’s administration. It not only provides a cost savings, but the ability to maintain current up-to-date information without having to depend on a third party. The implementation of a new telephone system allows for a much greater communication system within the village. It also provides a less expensive and a far more technologically advanced system.

A special thank you and sincere appreciation to all the village employees, the street department employees John Newell and Shawn Moore, water and sewer employees David Kadri and Chris Savage, office manager Shannon Haines, tax administrator Franc Carpenter, police officers, and firefighters for a job well done.  Thank you to William Owens our solicitor for his patience and guidance.

I must thank the citizens and employees of the village of West Lafayette for their support throughout 2016 and for your continued support in 2017. We continue to be plagued with issues of dilapidated structures that are difficult to deal with and are slow to process. We hope that 2017 will prove to be a good year and that residents of the village will take pride in their home, and ensure that they personally make every effort to comply with village ordinances to ensure an attractive village that is not only attractive to those of us who are residents and call this home but to new business opportunities as well.

As part of our efforts to continually grow and improve we are working to adopt the Ohio Basic Code and regulations within the village that will be uniform throughout the state and where and when necessary impose significant fines to address those that choose not to follow the rules and regulations of the village.

As we attempt to maintain transparency and citizen involvement I will continue with my Facebook post following each council meeting, encourage you as individuals to be involved in whatever way you can and participate when possible. Council meetings and committee meetings are always open to the public. We encourage your attendance. As I close I wish you all a very healthy and prosperous 2017, let’s make our village a shining star.

West Lafayette Mayor Stephen R. Bordenkircher



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