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Dharmavaram: efficient spending a top priority

CALUMET – For Sidney Dharmavaram, as a member of the village of Calumet Board of Trustees, spending money as efficiently as possible is a top priority.

Dharmavaram, who is a candidate on the Nov. 8 general election ballot for re-election to the board, said it’s important for her that the trustees communicate well with each other in order to make the best decisions for issues facing them and the village.

“I would like to see the council function like a village council should,” she said. “We (should) get presented with issues in a timely manner so that we can come together and make a well-informed decision as a group.”

Dharmavaram said she’s from Des Moines, Iowa. She occasionally came to Calumet as a child to visit her grandparents, and she moved to the village in 2006.

She was elected to the village board of trustees in 2014 after some village members asked her to run, which is something she had in mind for the future, Dharmavaram said.

“I always planned to do that,” she said.

The number one issue for Calumet is finding ways to most cost-effectively remove snow, Dharmavaram said.

“It will make or break us in terms of how do we deal with snow,” she said. “It is our issue in the area.”

Dharmavaram said although she realizes the need to remove snow from businesses, it might be important for the board to re-examine how the village charges businesses for snow removal.

“We cannot afford the premium snow removal for businesses,” she said. “If we’re going to continue premium snow removal for the businesses, we’re going to have to look more to the businesses to start supporting us more than they have in the past.”

If the cost of snow removal is reduced, Dharmavaram said more money will be available for capital improvements.

Some property owners in the village have received relatively large grants from various sources for renovations in the past, but Dharmavaram said rather than a few large grants, she would like to see more small grants come to a greater number of owners.

“Let’s look at funding multiple projects,” she said.

The board of trustees is working to establish a new blight ordinance, and Dharmavaram said it’s important village residents be part of that discussion so as many thoughts about blight and dangerous buildings can be heard.

“We owe it for the safety of the citizens,” she said. “Enforcement is hard, but it’s a little easier if people actually participate in creating the ordinance.”

Dharmavaram said although the village is not operating at a deficit, the sanitation fund is in the red, and the board of trustees need to address that.

“We have to have plans and figure what we’re going to do,” she said.

There is sufficient revenue to operate the village, Dharmavaram said.

Dharmavaram said she’s on the board of trustees to represent the residents as best as possible.

“I like to know with whatever decision I make its what the community wants,” she said. “I’m not in it for self interest.”