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Village of Roberts discusses stray cats, sewer/water rate increases

The Roberts Village Board covered a variety of topics at its Monday, June 14, meeting.

Scott Gerhardt, board member, opened the meeting with a question about the village's stray cat issue.

Roberts Police Chief Dan Burgess said that since the animal shelters have closed, the department has no means to do anything with them in an official capacity.

"So, as a homeowner, can we take care of them ourselves?" Gerhardt asked.

"I won't promote anyone to be in the street with a .22," Burgess said. "I'd hate to have a little kid get bit by a feral cat as well."

He also stated the stray cat issue was problematic since it was difficult to prove who owned a cat. Cats are not required to be registered like dogs are.

"I have talked with a couple of people who heard about people actively engaged in feeding these cats and we'll try to put a stop to that and issue citations," Burgess said.

Good Neighbor Days recap

Burgess said that overall the Good Neighbor Days weekend, June 3-6, went well. The main trouble spots were with parking, particularly towing of vehicles on the Main Street before the car show.

"I don't want to single anyone out because all the officers did a good job," Burgess began, "but the officer on duty that day probably did not make the best decision in towing the cars. I'm not big on towing cars until it was a last resort."

He did say that the officers went into local businesses beforehand to warn people to move their vehicles before the car show.

John Bond, director of public works, said from his viewpoint Good Neighbor Days went "extremely smooth."

Safe Routes to School grant

Angi Goodwin, of Ayers and Associates, told the board that the regional planning commission offered to write a Safe Routes to School grant for the village at no cost.

"They also suggested writing a joint grant with Hammond, since you share the same school," Goodwin said. "That might increase your chance to get the grant even though the routes will be separate."

Trustee Katy Kapaun asked if there was a way to do a connecting path between Hammond and Roberts. Goodwin said that the primary aim of the grant was to get kids to school, and they hadn't considered doing a joint path between the communities.

Sewer and water rate increase

The board discussed the impending sewer and water rate increase. The quarterly rate for water would be less than $1, approximately a 33 cents per month increase. The quarterly rate for sewer would be a little higher at $9, approximately $3.35 month increase.

The deficit was highlighted for the board when they reviewed the audit a few months ago.

Moeri said this situation is not unique to Roberts.

"Some communities are doing a 35 percent increase this year and then a 70 percent next year - that is how bad they are being hit."

Trustee Peter Tharp opposed the idea of implementing the increase right now.

"Why start it when people will be watering their lawns this season?" Tharp asked. "Can't we wait until fall so we have time to study this whole thing then?"

"We need to recoup some of this deficit and prolonging the rate increase will not help us at all," said Trustee Chuck Pizzi.

"If we don't do anything in the next three weeks, we won't be doing anything this year," Bond added, referring to the billing cycle.

The board decided to approve the water and sewer rate increase, as well as establish a committee to investigate any possible alternatives for reducing the deficit for the future.

Ordinance 2010-4 VB - modification of yard regulations

The only change to the existing Ordinance 2010-4 VB is that the accessory building should be 12 feet from the side and 12 feet from the rear yard. Moeri said the previous requirement of having it at 35 feet made it too restrictive. All existing structures will be grandfathered in.

Gerhardt brought up the question about what to do if someone uses their yard as a junkyard for old vehicles.

"It depends on how ridiculous it gets," Burgess said. "If someone said something to us, we'd do something about it. But if someone has an old car outside their garage and the neighbor behind them can see if from their deck, but it is not seen by the public, it makes it more difficult. We would have to get a warrant then."

"Public view is the key component to the whole thing," he concluded.

In other news:

• Megan Frye, a member of Roberts Congregational UCC, invited the board and the crowd present to attend the church's "National Night Out" on Tuesday, Aug. 3, from 6-10 p.m. The church will have free hot dogs and root beer floats with a donation to the food shelf or a school supply donation to Operation Christmas Child.

• Moeri recognized teens Anna Langer and Katherine Redmon who earned the Girl Scout Gold Award - the highest award given.

• Bond told the board he received an e-mail from a Hudson resident complimenting the village on the improvements done on the baseball field.

• Bond reported that there was vandalism at the Village Park: a lock was destroyed, a toilet was cracked and needed to be replaced, and some kids snapped the line for the air conditioner at the park building.

• The signs for the Yellowstone Trail have come in. Nathan Stork, board member, will be organizing where to install them in the village.

• The board approved the plan of business operation for A-1 Priority Insurance Agency LLC on Main Street. They plan to open on Monday, June 21.

• The board received three bids to construct a water and sewer pipelines for future use under I-94. They decided on the lowest bid of Ayers and Associates at $4,000.

• Kapaun reported that the library architect has fulfilled his 10 on-site visitations; however, they are going to have Ayers and Associates continue to make visits until the building is finished.

• The board approved Roberts Lions Club Picnic license request for June 26. The event is a benefit for Katrina Flettre, 10, who was diagnosed with cancer.

• The board approved the bond cost schedule that lists fines with a base of $100.

• The Village of Roberts meets the second Monday of each month at the Village Hall at 7 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.