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Mayor: Williamsville's biggest challenge is its aging sanitary sewer

The Village of Williamsville is at a “crossroads,” said Mayor Brian J. Kulpa, who sees a series of challenges to the village’s longevity.

Kulpa is expected to outline those challenges during a State of the Village address at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Williamsville Meeting House, 5658 Main St.

The major issue confronting the square-mile village is its aging sanitary sewer system, which accounts for 40 percent of the village’s budget, Kulpa said.

“The sanitary sewer is a problem from a number of ways you look at it,” he said Sunday. “We have, and always will have, infiltration and inflow issues.”

The village is projected to spend about $1.3 million on sewer maintenance, out of a general fund of $3.7 million, in its next fiscal year that begins July 1.

“It’s out of balance,” said Kulpa.

He’s proposing that the village look at consolidating its sewer system with Erie County or the Town of Amherst.

“We’re going to continue to spend time, effort and funding on our sewer system as long as the system remains in the village’s hands,” said Kulpa.

The village has made “a tremendous amount of capital repairs” over the last decade to a sewer system that continues to depreciate, he said.

The capital portion of the village’s sewer fund counts against its tax cap and “will eventually be the expenditure that chokes the village," Kulpa said. "Maybe not in the next five years, but in a decade.”

The village also doesn’t control its sewer rate because it uses the Town of Amherst’s sewage treatment plant.

“Our rates will forever be bound to the will of the Town of Amherst and the condition of the town’s treatment plant,” he said.

Some of the village’s other challenges include:

  • The fact that the village is fully developed. Voters in 2010 rejected a proposal to dissolve the village. But “at some point you have to figure out how the village is actually going to survive as an institution,” said Kulpa, who in January announced his intention to run this year for Amherst town supervisor. “It’s financial, it’s social, it’s all those things.” Part of addressing this challenge is ensuring that the southwest corner of the village along South Long Street is redeveloped to residents’ satisfaction. Natale Development has proposed a mix of apartments and townhouses in that area on the former Darling Construction yard.
  • A lack of transit options on Main Street. “You can talk about traffic on Main Street but really what we lack is good access to transportation,” Kulpa said.
  • And stormwater runoff and erosion. “That is undermining a lot of our infrastructure, undermining a lot of our parkland,” Kulpa said. “We’re perched on an escarpment, so when you have an escarpment edge you have erosion. You have natural degradation of your built infrastructure.”

Meanwhile, village officials anticipate its forthcoming budget will stay under the tax cap and see a reduction in the tax rate.

“We’ve got a little bit of work to do,” Kulpa said, “but we’re pretty close.”

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