Johnstown Independent

New Year to bring budget decisions, road improvements

By ANDREW KING
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When looking ahead to 2014, the decision on the village of Johnstown's budget looms large and will be the first thing the village addresses in January.

"We are closing the 2013 budget on Jan. 9," Village Manager Jim Lenner told ThisWeek. "All bills from 2013 will be final and will present the final 2013 expenditures to council by February."

The village was unable to make budget determinations earlier because not all of the 2013 data was available. As of the end of the year, the council passed a 2013 budget "with some tweaks" to use as the preliminary 2014 budget and will reassess the budget when all of this year's figures are in.

After hefty cuts, including $44,894 from police, $84,558 from the administration, $46,319 from sewer and $75,000 from mayor's court, the current budget seems unbalanced by more than $500,000, though those figures are expected to change.

Away from the budget, Johnstown residents should notice a large capital improvement project on state Route 37.

"The residents and traveling public will see Main Street (Route 37) paved through the village," Lenner said. "Similar to the paving of U.S. (Route) 62 in 2013, this project will involve removing the upper course of pavement and laying new pavement down. Curb will be installed from Pratt Street to Jersey Street to help improve drainage and our ability to keep the road and storm sewer clean."

Lenner said although the change in traffic flow during the project is a concern, residents shouldn't expect any other negatives.

The Main Street project came after a review of the village's roads this year, and more steps to improve Johnstown's infrastructure could be imminent.

"We completed a first-ever review and roadway condition inventory in 2013," Lenner said. "The village engineer, service director and I will be presenting the results to Village Council on Jan. 7. This is the first step determining the best way to maintain and improve our roadway infrastructure."

Main Street isn't the only capital improvement village leaders are excited about, though, Lenner said.

"We are starting the engineering on the Raccoon Creek pedestrian bridge that will allow pedestrians to walk safely across the creek without using the vehicle bridge," he said. "We have received a grant for 80 percent of the construction costs which will occur in 2015."

Another change in 2014 will be the American Legion Post 254's home. The post, which has been downtown, is moving out of its cramped headquarters.

Post 254 might end up leasing the village's recreation center, but no deal has been finalized yet.

"We are still working on the details internally," Lenner said. "It could be possible for the Legion to take possession in 2014, but that will depend on final negotiations."

Post 254 is interested in using the village's rec center on Maple Street, northwest of the downtown square, as its headquarters if a deal could be reached to also get some village-owned land adjacent to the rec center.

Both the village and Post 254 have appointed thee-member committees to work together on a plan.

In August, Post 254 officials had requested an acre of vacant land just north of the village municipal offices at 599 S. Main St. to build a new headquarters. However, the Village Council decided it might have other plans for that land in the future and rejected the request.

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