April 30, 2020
I am writing to give you a status update for the Village of Vernon. As we are all painfully aware, we still have in place protocols mandated by NY State and Oneida County to comply with Covid-19 social distancing. To date we’ve been fortunate in that there has been few positive tests in our area. I encourage you to maintain social distancing and hand washing to help keep you, your families and our community safe. Also, there is currently an executive order from Oneida County to wear a mask when visiting retail stores and other essential public businesses (post office, etc.).
The Village offices will remain closed at least until May 15th and we will update any status changes on our website https://www.villageofvernonny.org/page/page/8509301.htm as well as our Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/VillageofVernonNY. We have a night drop box for any payments you need to make until the office reopens. All parks will also remain closed. We do have the walking trail open. When walking please observe social distancing guidelines.
On a personnel front, our Officer In Charge for the Vernon PD, Paul Thompson has resigned and will be moving on. I’d like to thank Paul for his 9 years of service to the village. It has been a pleasure working with him these past two years. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors. As of May 1st, our new Officer In Charge will be Shawn Gwilt. Shawn has 28 years of experience in law enforcement, including 10 years here in Vernon. We are excited to welcome Shawn back to Vernon.
Financially speaking, the next 6-12 months will be challenging to put it optimistically. Our general fund budget is supported by revenues from The Oneida Indian Nation revenue sharing program as well as VLT revenue sharing from Vernon Downs. With both of those businesses closed, that revenue stream has stopped as well. The troubling part is that these revenues make up 27% of our budget. We also need to factor in that Sales Tax revenues from Oneida County will also suffer due to the closing of many retail establishments. So where do we go from here?
Ordinarily, with proper planning, a local government has reserves set aside for difficult times, but that is not the case in Vernon. When I took office, our reserve accounts were virtually gone. I, along with the board have instituted many cost cutting measures to help restore our financial health, but now (with the Coronavirus Pandemic) we will be forced into cutting expenditures even more to protect the financial viability of our community. Effective immediately, there will be no unnecessary spending by the village. We will do our absolute best to maintain the public safety as well as maintaining essential services for all of our residents.
We are also well aware that each of you may have been financially affected by the current economic conditions. With that being said, we are extending the due date of current water bills from April 30th to May 31st without penalty or interest. We will revisit this policy in May. If the state stay at home order moves into June, we will possibly extend these water bill payments accordingly.
Our next Village Board Meeting will take place on Tuesday May 19th at 6:30 PM. At this point I am not able to know if it will be at the Village Hall or if it will be a virtual meeting. We will post details as soon as they are available.
Finally, I’d like to thank you all for your patience and understanding during these troubling times. We as a community are strong and this too shall pass. Please remember to check our web site and Facebook page for updates. We will be diligent in getting information out to you as soon as possible. For questions or concerns, my email address is email@example.com. I wish you all the best.
Joseph M D’Agostino, Mayor