The Lovettsville Town Council held its annual retreat Saturday, as council members sought to come to agreement on the town’s goals for 2018.
Town Manager Sam Finz, who was appointed to the permanent position last month after leading the town on an interim basis since May, facilitated discussions that focused on six key priorities—the budget, the Capital Improvement Plan, a general financial plan, overall staffing issues, new town programs and the prospect of a town office expansion.
“I’m not the policymaker, I’m just the person administering,” Finz said. “My goal is basically to develop some sort of stability at this time … so people know their town is running well and in good hands.”
As for town finances, Finz said the main goal was to make sure all council members knew what the town’s budget is, how the town will be able to pay for projects and whether it can even afford them. One of these projects could see the replacement of water meters in an effort get more accurate readings. “I want to make sure I put adequate funds in the budget for that,” Finz said.
Mayor Bob Zoldos said council members also talked in depth about increased economic development and striving to take the brunt of the tax burden off homeowners.
“We want to get to 80-20,” he said, referring to 80 percent of the tax base coming from residents and 20 percent from businesses. “It’s something we really focused on.”
Zoldos said council also came to a unanimous agreement that the town offices should be expanded on at the current location, rather than moving.
“I was pleased to find out that the council was pretty much on board,” he said. “That site offers us a lot of things that the others don’t—it keeps us where the town government is.”
Finz said he feels the expansion is needed at this point in time, since the town office isn’t always big enough. In fact, when the town announced the winners of the Light Up Lovettsville holiday lighting contest in December, Finz said the larger turnout nearly became a safety issue.
“I think we came pretty close to exceeding capacity,” he said. “We’re extremely cramped.”
Zoldos said Finz would develop a scope of work for the expansion project.
Finz said council also talked about making the Town Square Master Plan more community friendly, making the South Church Street/Pennsylvania Avenue corridor more accessible and continuing improvements to Broad Way, which would eventually add sidewalks from the town’s community center all the way to the Town Square.
In addition to goals for this year, a few of last year’s accomplishments were also discussed. One of these was the successful negotiation of a water and sewer project that is now being implemented.
According to Finz, the town contracted with English Construction and the Arcadis engineering firm about eight years ago to make improvements to the town’s water and sewer system. Although the $3.5 million project increased the system’s capacity by 125,000 gallons, there were multiple internal failures. The town last year negotiated with both companies to ensure repairs were made and the town was getting what it initially paid for.
“That was a major accomplishment,” Finz said. “Hopefully, the cost of managing the system will go down and ultimately that will show up in the water and sewer rates down the road.”
Finz said the system is being tested for effectiveness.