Discussion continues on well in PJ

PORT JEFFERSON — Discussion about the old artisan well continued at the Port Jefferson Village Council meeting on Monday night.

An official proposal to remove the well was submitted to council by Ed Patterson, whose house is next door to the well at Canal and Water streets.

He said he and a neighbor would demolish the concrete structure, cap the old casings below ground, haul away debris, level the ground and plant grass, all at their own expense.

Patterson said the money was raised to fancy up the well, then there was no plan for up-keep and now it is an eye-sore. The original “Flowing Well Fund” still exists, but there is no money in it, Village Clerk and Treasurer Judy Fair said.

The matter, first brought up at the council’s June meeting, was heavily debated at Monday’s meeting.

Community members and council were both in favor of keeping the well, and making it look better with limited future maintenance required, but they were still worried about possible costs.

The consensus was the cracks will need to be fixed, and the plants taken out if they are to keep it there. Also some sort of historical plaque or marker would be nice to show where it once was, whether or not they demolish it.

They discussed asking the Shelby County Historical Society for advice, as well as taking a petition around town to see what the rest of the community thought.

The council voted to table the matter until they investigate the several options discussed.

Mayor David Clem brought up several other things at the meeting.

He said he’s been working with the mayor of Sidney, clergy people, and several entities around the county on a homelessness task force.

They are trying to utilize and coordinate resources they already have to combat homelessness in Shelby County before the cold weather hits.

Instead of creating something from the bottom up, they want to put the things they already have into motion.

Clem also explained to the council how the rescue district levy will work on the November ballot. The district, comprised of Port Jefferson, Perry, Salem and Green Townships, needs some more money in order to keep up with the needs of the squad, training and equipment, Clem said.

Every five years the area votes to renew a 0.8-mill levy. Clem said even though property values change, this amount is frozen at the time it was originally passed, almost 15 years ago, which makes it technically 0.5-mill levy with today’s numbers.

The cost of equipment and supplies for the rescue squad has gone up during these 15 years as well, but the money received from the levy has remained the same. Right now they get about $46,000 every year, it’s the same money, but the rate has gone down.

The rescue district wanted to have the auditor certify a 0.9-mill levy because they thought that would fix what they needed and give them enough money, said Clem. The auditor said that if they do a replacement levy, they lose two different rollback tax exemptions for homeowners. If a renewal is placed on the ballot, the rollbacks stay in place.

Clem said, what the rescue district decided to do is put the renewal of the 0.8-mill levy on the ballot and add a new 0.2-mil levy. This will equal the new rate out to about 0.7 mills.

Clem emphasized that it doesn’t make it 1.0-mill levy, it makes it 0.7-mill because they’d be adding the 0.2-mill levy to the current value of .5-mill, which is currently being collected through the existing 0.8-mill levy. This will raise the amount the squad gets every year from about $46,000 to about $62,000.

It won’t explain this on the ballot, Clem said, so if community members have any questions about how all the numbers work out, they should call the village office at 937-492-9652 or come to the next village council meeting on Aug. 3 at 7 p.m.

Reach this writer at 937-538-4825; follow on Twitter @SDNAlexandraN