Johnstown Independent

State of the village

Lenner: Roads are priority, but funds drive decisions

By ANDREW KING
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Johnstown Village Manager Jim Lenner's state-of-the-village address to Village Council on Feb. 18 featured quite a list of plans scheduled for this year.

Projects include roadwork, a continued look at a new business park and various studies.

Lenner said he's most excited about finishing a project that many might not notice.

"It's not going to be exciting for most people, but I'm most excited for the finalization of the transportation asset management plan," Lenner told ThisWeek. "That's going to lay the groundwork to get a plan in place to figure out how and what to do with our roadways. I think that's a pressing need. I drove around today, and the water and snow just tore them up."

After a rough 2013 that resulted in the village pushing some projects back, Lenner said, he hopes to achieve all of the projects that are budgeted for 2014.

"There was some stuff in 2013 that we didn't get done that we had to roll over to 2014," he said. "We're mapping all of our infrastructure assets, and that wasn't completed in 2013 like we had hoped to do. There was just a lot of little things that popped up here and there in 2013 that we had to take care of, and we weren't able to get that big of a project done."

Lenner said the transportation plan, design of the new turn lane on U.S. Route 62 and the repaving of state Route 37 (Main Street) are the biggest priorities for the village in 2014. He said it's important to remember, though, that the village's finances would drive decisions regarding all projects in the coming year.

"We can come up with the greatest plan for the roadways, but if we don't have ways to pay for it, then we can't," Lenner said. "Same with the business park. The greatest concept and the greatest master plan is wonderful, but if we can't pay for it, nothing comes to fruition.

"Figuring out alternative sources of funding that will help subsidize our general fund and our tax revenue will be our biggest challenge, not only in 2014 but (also) for a few years to come," he said.

The first step for Johnstown stabilizing its finances will be to update the budget plan, which, for now, is identical to the 2013 budget.

"In the next 30 days, we're going to be looking at that to see exactly where we came in for 2013 and our actual expenditures and revenues," Lenner said. "We'll have to make some difficult decisions on where we need to go for 2014 and the future to make sure we're living within our means and still being able to provide quality service and our relatively low 1-percent tax rate."

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