By Bera Dunau Staff Writer
---- — Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz said he is planning to move forward with a number of projects this year and credits paid parking with helping to make the projects possible.
Katz and Deputy Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh were sworn in for their second terms April 7.
The ceremony took place in the village office building, with about 20 people attending, including trustees Cynthia Falk and Bruce Maxson and National Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson.
“It’s great to be mayor of this village,” said Katz, after taking the oath of office.
Trustee Lou Allstadt, who was also re-elected this year, was unable to attend the ceremony. Katz said that Allstadt will take the oath the next time the board of trustees meets.
“It never feels routine (getting to sworn in),” said Katz. “I’m the mayor of Cooperstown, which is pretty cool.”
Katz said the focus of this year’s tentative budget was split several ways, including building up reserves for infrastructure projects, repairing streets, repairing the village government building and catching up on vehicle replacements.
Asked about what an expected series of good induction years at the Baseball Hall of Fame could mean for the village, Katz said that huge crowds were good for business, Main Street and Cooperstown as a whole.
“People swarm in … and they see the good things we have,” said Katz.
He also said that the village would benefit from the increased revenue, which would allow the village to continue to improve its infrastructure and put an even better face on Cooperstown, mentioning this year’s Main Street renovation.
“It all does feed in,” said Katz.
Katz also talked about paid parking. Introduced last year, Katz credited the controversial law with providing the village with needed funds, saying that $370,000 from paid parking and $20,000 from parking permits have been included in this year’s tentative budget, comparable to a 20-percent tax increase.
Katz said that this money made it so the village government could do more and had to make less choices over what projects to fund.
“We’re trying to do it all,” said Katz.
He also confirmed that the village would not have budgeted in a zero-percent tax increase in its tentative budget without paid parking, and that the funds filled what he described as a “big, gaping hole” that used to be in village budgets.
“We’re using that money for the betterment of the village,” said Katz. “That was always the design of paid parking.”
In addition to generating more revenue, Katz said the village is continuing to look for additional grant opportunities and making budget cuts by exploring shared services and consolidating positions.
“I can’t believe three years went by quite so quickly,” said Tillapaugh.
She also praised her colleagues.
“This board is an active board,” she said. “It’s a very high-functioning, involved board.”
In terms of what she was excited about tackling in her new term, she mentioned trying to make some repairs on the village’s docks.
“They really haven’t had any good infrastructure (and) major repairs,” said Tillapaugh, who also raised the possibility of installing floating docks.
Still, she said that such efforts will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that such repairs will not be happening this year.
“It’s a huge investment,” said Tillapaugh. “It’s something that we really need funding for.”