The Gambier Village Council convened on Monday for its February meeting, during which it discussed the possibility of the Mount Vernon Fire Department absorbing the College Township Fire Department (CTFD). It also considered the Village’s 2021 budget and new traffic signage.
In regards to the CTFD’s possible merger, Councilmember Liz Forman emphasized that the conversation is still preliminary. In an email to the Collegian, Forman explained that a possible absorption is one of several options the CTFD is considering in order to most effectively fund and run the Department in the future.
“It’s not a change — it’s just, ‘What does this mean? What would this involve?’” Forman said during the meeting. She also said that the change could be beneficial for the Village, citing the past year’s high property taxes and the proposal’s potential to provide a more equitable distribution of fire and EMT funds.
The fate of the CTFD was brought into question this past fall when the Department announced that, after several years of insufficient funding, it was on the brink of closing its doors. In October, the Council unanimously voted to endorse a property levy which would provide the Department with short-term aid. It later passed in November’s elections, accruing 81% of the vote.
The Village’s 2021 budget was also a topic of discussion. Although Gambier’s $431,000 starting balance is significantly smaller than that of 2019 and 2020 — when the starting budgets were $725,000 and $799,000, respectively — the Council remains optimistic about the Village’s financial situation. “2020 wasn’t as bad as it could have been,” Councilmember Betsy Heer said. She also noted that the Council hopes to have a carryover budget of $512,000— serving as a sort of rainy day fund — by year’s end.
The Council also discussed the possible addition of safety initiatives for pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Routes 229 and 308. Among the proposed options was the acquisition of portable, battery-operated speeding signs that can tell drivers how fast they are going.
Additionally, Mayor Leeman Kessler mentioned that the search for the Village’s new fiscal officer is underway as the current officer, Kathi Schoner, prepares for retirement.
The Council will hold its next meeting on Monday, March 1 at 7 p.m. Interested community members can attend the meeting via Zoom. The meeting link will be made available here closer to the date.