City Council passes budget with 3 percent tax decrease, approves many other resolutions
Batavia City Council breezed through two dozen resolutions tonight, including the unanimous passage of the City budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year that begins on April 1.
“The budget has passed with a 3-percent tax decrease for the current year,” Interim City Manager Matthew Worth said matter-of-factly before exiting Council Chambers to take part in the board’s Executive Session.
The $26.9 million budget, of which $16.7 million comprises the general fund, calls for a tax levy of $5.25 million, and also includes a 2-percent salary increase for 10 supervisors and department heads.
Council also passed Local Law No. 1 for 2018 which establishes 3.5-percent increases in water rates and meter fees, and a 10-percent increase in capital improvement fees. The vote on that measure was 7-1 with Robert Bialkowski casting the “no” vote.
Bialkowski abstained on a 7-0 vote to adopt Local Law No. 2 that allows the City to collect mall concourse maintenance fees from merchants as a result of the litigation settlement between the City and mall merchants.
The annual user fee schedule is $2 per square foot April 1, 2018-March 31, 2021; $2.04 per square foot April 1, 2021-March 31, 2022; and $2.06 per square foot April 1, 2022-March 31, 2023. After the last date, the user fee shall be determined by the revenue needed from the user fee to support the total annual costs of operation, maintenance, management and improvement of the concourse.
In another matter related to the mall, Bialkowski voted with the majority in an unanimous tally to hire a full-time building maintenance worker at $14-18 per hour and benefits and four part-time custodians without benefits.
Three resolutions dealing with the issuance of general obligation bonds were passed by 8-0 counts (Rose Mary Christian was absent).
The first one is a $2.5 million bond for a combined 3.5 miles of pavement milling and overlay on Clinton, Liberty, South Liberty, Swan and Vine streets, and East Avenue. The second is for $800,000 for sidewalk improvements on Washington and Tracy avenues and Liberty Street. And the third is a $750,000 to buy and install a management systems computer software package.
“Most of the bonds are -- with the exception of the software -- major construction projects that we’re actually receiving federal monies for,” Worth said.
“However, with those projects you have to expend the money on the front end of it and then you get reimbursed. These bonds are really just a cash flow to bridge until we’re reimbursed by the federal government.”
Council also passed resolutions to adopt a revised purchasing manual, updated strategic plan and retooled investment policy that, Worth said, affords the City more flexibility.
“When the city as a municipality invests its money into the bank account, the bank has to basically get collateral for our money – to ensure that ours is covered,” he said.
“This flexibility allows the bank to instead of having collateral, (for it) to buy essentially the insurance policy through FDIC to insure the city’s money. That allows them to free up some of their other assets. That being the case, they can offer the City a better return on their invesetment – essentially a higher interest rate on their savings.”
Other resolutions that passed, all unanimously:
-- The purchase of a CAT Loader with a plow and wing for $226,300 from the DPW equipment reserve account. The City is financing it via a “municipal lease,” a tool that keeps the “tax levy somewhat flat and spreads the cost over several (in this case, seven) years,” Worth said. “Once the financing is complete, it is owned by the City.”
Worth said the attachments to the new loader and one bought last year are interchangeable.
“This is very useful … in plowing parking lots, in particular. This is a critical piece of equipment.”
-- An intermunicipal agreement with Genesee County for the City to pay 20 percent of the Genesee County Youth Bureau director's time providing administrative services for the City Youth Bureau, and a revision of the Youth Bureau bylaws.
-- A bid from The Tree Doctor, based in Clarence, for annual tree trimming and removal. Depending upon the size of the tree, costs range from $200 to $3,290 per tree, with trimming costs set at $310 per tree.
-- The transfer of $45,000 from the employee benefit accrued liability reserve fund to meet obligations of accrued benefits due to employees upon termination. Included in the list of payments are a $3,800 payment to the former city manager and $27,000 in payments to former fire department personnel.
-- A contract with Layne Inliner, LLC, of Fairfield, Maine, for $145,212 for the pipelining of 21 segments of sewer mains on portions of Vine Street, Swan Street, Burke Drive and South Main Street. Layne was by far the lowest of six bids received, and is about $45,000 less than the budget amount for the project.
“With Layne’s bid coming in as it did, it will allow us to do more than we anticipated,” Worth said.
Council approved two community events – Z-Club of Batavia High 5K run/walk downtown on April 29 and GLOW Progressives rally and walk at Williams Park on March 24.
Photo at top -- Batavia Middle School fifth-graders Cristian DeSalvo, left, Cooper Crowley and Anthony Licata attended tonight's City Council meeting, observing local government in action as part of their Cub Scout Pack 6069's "Building a Better World" adventure project. Photo by Mike Pettinella.
Love the picture of the Boy Scouts. I think being a Scout helps kids grow up to be GOOD people - -- once a Boy Scout, always a boy scout [in that way it's kinda like being a Marine].