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December 5, 2017 - 8:22pm

Batavia City Manager Jason Molino admits that a communication breakdown has resulted in the confusion surrounding a proposal to redevelop the Old Engine House on Main Street with help from a Restore New York Communities Initiative grant.

“Maybe we all could have done a better job communicating,” said Molino, speaking by telephone tonight.

Ever since Molino’s memo to City Council dated Nov. 22 – a report that apparently wasn’t read by all council members prior to their Nov. 27 meeting (Thanksgiving came in between) – there have been numerous public comments criticizing the process.

Some of those comments placed the blame on the city manager for “jumping the gun” and others questioned the selection of Thompson Builds of Byron and Churchville as the developer.

A public hearing on the proposal to renovate the former restaurant into a commercial/residential building and to apply for a $1 million Restore NY grant to help fund it was scheduled for Monday afternoon, but was abruptly cancelled after Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell said the County Legislature wasn’t ready to declare the property as “surplus.”

This, as would be expected, cast a negative light upon all parties involved, especially Molino for bringing the project to City Council.

“(Cancelling the public hearing) caught me by surprise,” Molino said, noting that Gsell told him that the legislature needed more time to review the plan.

Currently, the Engine House, which is owned by the county, is the home to public defender offices and a facilities management shop.

Molino said he was aware that the county had been looking to surplus the property for some time – “a couple years,” he said – and that Julie Pacatte, coordinator of the Batavia Development Corporation, had referred a couple investors to the county.

“I know that Jay had people looking at it as well; multiple people already looked at it,” Molino said.

Molino said that Pacatte came to him with news that Thompson Builds was interested in renovating the building to have a commercial venture on the first floor and apartments on the second floor – and that he was excited by the prospect of putting the property back on the tax rolls.

“That was a few weeks ago,” Molino said, after the City submitted a letter of intent to apply for the grant and was accepted – matters that weren’t communicated to City Council.

“I could have done a better job of advising Council,” Molino said, adding that he also should have received confirmation that the county was ready to relinquish the building.

As far as the procedure to dispose of surplus property is concerned, Molino said the county had several options, including an auction, request for proposal (RFP) or “appraised value and straight deal contract.”

He said the City’s role was simply as a “pass-through” since the county was not eligible to apply for the Restore NY grant.

Molino said he knew of two interested investors, including Thompson Builds, but said that it was Pacatte who “worked with Thompson to develop it a bit more.”

Pacatte could not be reached for comment tonight.

For the record, Thompson Builds has done work at Genesee County Building 2, VA Medical Center, Genesee County Airport and Liberty Pumps in Bergen, and did major work at the Big Tree Glen apartment complex on West Main Street Road.

When it was pointed out that Pacatte reports to him, Molino acknowledged that “maybe I should have been involved more.”

Despite the setback, Molino said he hopes that City Council would consider applying for the grant in 2018.

“We need to come together and gear up for next year,” he said, “by communicating with the county on the disposal of the property and with the investor. By getting everybody on board, we should be able to move forward.”

December 4, 2017 - 4:01pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, genesee county legislature, Old Engine House.

Outgoing Genesee County Legislature Chairman Raymond Cianfrini today said he is "disappointed" by the decision to cancel a public hearing in connection with applying for a Restore New York Communities Initiative grant to possibly turn the Old Engine House into a tax-generating commercial/residential venture.

"I have been talking about disposing of property that we (the county) no longer needs for a couple years, and I had identified this property as one that should be sold," said Cianfrini, who is stepping away from the legislature at the end of this year.

"I am disappointed (because) this is a great opportunity for the city in that somebody is interested in redeveloping it, and a great opportunity for the county as it is an underutilized building. I wonder what impact this delay will have upon the developer."

Cianfrini said he was puzzled by the move to cancel the public hearing.

"From what I understand, (County Manager) Jay Gsell put it on hold by advising (City Manager) Jason Molino that the county needs more time to determine if it should be declared surplus property," he said. "It appears to have been his decision; I was not consulted and am not in the loop."

Cianfrini said that County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens has communicated to him that the facilities management employees and equipment could move to the highway department on Cedar Street.

"We've already moved the History department to County Building II and as far as the public defenders are concerned, I'm sure there is space in the courthouse," he said. "I don't see why we should continue to pay to maintain the building. Why is this happening now, at the last minute?"

November 7, 2017 - 11:02pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, genesee county legislature, notify.

electionnov72017_a.jpg

Eugene Jankowski, Robert Bialkowski, Adam Tabelski.

City Republican leaders and supporters were in a celebratory mood tonight at City Slickers on Main Street after learning that Batavia voters sent their three incumbent candidates – Eugene Jankowski, Robert Bialkowski and Adam Tabelski – back to City Council for another term.

In an eight-person race for three at-large seats, Jankowski (the sitting City Council president) tallied 1,101 votes, Bialkowski 1,069 votes and Tabelski 912 votes, according to unofficial results compiled by Republican party committee members.

Bill Fava, a former City Councilman, placed fourth with 788 votes, followed by fellow Democrat Brad Eddy (563) and the three Libertarian Party candidates – Lisa Whitehead (409), Jim Rosenbeck (407) and Mark Potwora (249).

In the contested race for the District 9 seat (City Wards 4&5) on the Genesee County Legislature, the unofficial count showed former Genesee County Sheriff Gary Maha, a Republican, drawing 364 votes to incumbent Democrat Edward DeJaneiro Jr.’s 302 votes, with 79 absentee ballots yet to be counted.

"We're very pleased with the results, and very confident that Gary (Maha) has beaten a good and tough candidate for the Legislature seat, and that the other (City Council) candidates won by a decent amount," said City Republican Party Chair David Saleh, crediting his committee for their hard work during the campaign.

Republican Message: Let's Get Back to Work

All three City Council winners said that the results indicated that the voters are happy with the job they have been doing, and that they need to stay the course.

"We appreciate all the support we have had across the city and now for us, it's back to work," Tabelski said. "We've got a lot of great things going on in the city. We've got a major focus right now on downtown revitalization. We have infrastructure projects going and, for us, it's back to work."

Jankowski said that he was glad that people are supporting what the Council has been doing, also mentioning the pending infrastructure projects and downtown revitalization plans.

"It's good to hear that the people are behind us ... and we're on the right track. We're doing what they want us to do."

Bialkowski talked about the time and effort put in by his party as a deciding factor.

"I think when the voters speak, people need to listen," he said. "One of the things that we did as the Republican party -- we worked very hard, we abided by all the laws and ordinances of the city. We didn't put our signs in parkways or put them on people's property without asking.

"We had a clear message -- we're working hard. We may not do everything right all the time, but we're sure trying."

He also gave a lot of credit to Saleh.

"On the city side, our city Chairman Dave Saleh deserves a lot of credit," Bialkowski said.

"He's worked very hard with us, and given a lot of his personal time. He's gone out and handed out materials door to door. He's had quite a few meetings. He's helped us all along the way ... And it was a real learning curve for him, too." 

Eddy, Libertarians Keep Their Chins Up

Eddy, a political newcomer, was optimistic in defeat, stating that he enjoyed campaigning and kept the door open for a future run.

"I really enjoyed getting out and meeting a lot of people in the community," he said. "There’s a lot of great ideas, a lot of people that are unhappy with the progress we’ve had so far. So that kind of motivated me to getting out there and campaigning – and really getting to know the community a little better and getting my ideas out there as well."

He said the "lack of name recognition" likely hurt his chances, but he also tipped his cap to the diligence of Batavia's leaders in the area of economic development.

"(Them) getting that $10 million – they’ve been working very hard for that -- for the downtown revitalization. (It seems that voters) wanted the status quo, and wanted things to go the way that things have been … until next time."

The three Libertarian candidates, running on a platform to replace City Manager Jason Molino, understood that they had an uphill climb, but, speaking at T.F. Brown's, remained steadfast in their quest to have an impact on city government.

"It's a platform that we believed in (and) we continue to believe that," Rosenbeck said, "The people chose a different path and we wish the incumbents who were re-elected well.

"We will be back here again in two years and four years. We're making incremental gains and we expect to continue to do that."

Potwora said the Libertarian trio "did a lot of work, we canvassed a lot of people, we met a lot of good people and we feel we did make some impact on City Council."

"We did show up at a lot of City Council meetings, and we just believe that we were a good voice for the people of Batavia who supported us in this race. It's kind of tough being a third party, but we feel we did the hard work that was needed."

Maha Back in the County Ring

Maha, who retired on Dec. 31 after seven terms as sheriff, said he's ready to resume working for the people should his lead over DeJaneiro hold up.

"As you know, I retired the first of the year, I got all of my work done around the house and now I have time to do something and I feel that I want to represent the people here in Wards 4 and 5 in the City of Batavia," he said,

While saying he's not pushing for a particular type of new jail, Maha did stress that something needs to be done.

"With the Legislature there are a lot of issues out there. I know my opponent tried to make the jail an issue. And the media never talked to me about what my position was on the jail, it came from him, I tried to explain that to (a media outlet)."

He said that all options are on the table, and that the Legislature has addressed the jail issue.

"Still, the state commissioner of corrections has said you need to do something with your jail," he said.

"It could be a shared jail with another county. Orleans County at the present time hasn't committed to have a shared jail yet. The county has a study out there for a jail. It's kind of premature that it will be a shared jail or a stand-alone. That's something that the full Legislature has to address, not just me."

"I'm no longer sheriff. I'm not pushing for a new jail. My job is to look out for the taxpayers, and ... I will represent them to the best of my ability."

In another contested races:

Town of Le Roy -- Former Councilman John Duyssen defeated incumbent Michael Welsh for Town Justice by 79 votes, and Town Council: Incumbent David Paddock won one of two council seats, with the other going to newcomer James Farnholtz.

Town of Bergen -- James Starowitz and Mark Anderson won Town Council seats;

Town of Bethany -- Incumbent Town Justice Thomas McBride defeated challenger Joseph Nowakowski.

Town of Byron -- Roger Rouse over Gerald Heins for Town Supervisor.

Town of Stafford -- Newcomer Julie Scheuerlein defeated Michelle McEwen by a wide margin for Town Clerk, and incumbents Ronald Panek and Robert Mattice were returned to their Town Council posts.

electionnov72017-2a.jpg

Gary Maha, center, checking out the unofficial vote total.

electionnov72017-3a.jpg

Paul Viele and Jack Taylor go over election results.

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Genesee County Democrats at Smokin' Eagle in Le Roy -- Rob Stiles, Mike Welsh, Nikki Calhoun, Brad Eddy, and Anne Sapienza.

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Libertarian Party candidates Lisa Whitehead, Jim Rosenbeck, Mark Potwora. Photos by Howard Owens.

November 7, 2017 - 11:02pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, genesee county legislature.

City Republican leaders and supporters were in a celebratory mood tonight after learning that Batavia voters sent their three incumbent candidates – Eugene Jankowski, Robert Bialkowski and Adam Tabelski – back to City Council for another term

In an eight-person race for three at-large seats, Jankowski (the sitting City Council president) tallied 1,101 votes, Bialkowski 1,069 votes and Tabelski 912 votes, according to unofficial results compiled by Republican party committee members.

Bill Fava, a former City Councilman, placed fourth with 788 votes, followed by fellow Democrat Brad Eddy (563) and the three Libertarian Party candidates – Lisa Whitehead (409), Jim Rosenbeck (407) and Mark Potwora (249).

In the contested race for the District 9 seat (City Wards 4&5) on the Genesee County Legislature, the unofficial count showed former Genesee County Sheriff Gary Maha, a Republican, drawing 364 votes to incumbent Democrat Edward DeJaneiro Jr.’s 302 votes, with 79 absentee ballots yet to be counted.

This is a developilng story. 

July 7, 2017 - 5:24pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, news, genesee county legislature, batavia.

Press release:

New York State, as part of the Adopted 2017/18 State Budget, included another mandate on all local governments, and possibly school districts. It is the requirement to discuss and develop shared service ideas and plans for eventual submittal to the Genesee County Legislature in August/September. Then, these must be submitted to the NYS Department of State by Oct. 15.

Part of the process for discussing and developing these public-sector shared-service plans is to have public meetings/opportunities for citizen input. These provide forums to take suggestions on opportunities for possible public-sector shared services that have not already been put forth or are not already in place.

In order to satisfy this public-forum mandate, the GC Legislature will hold an open comment period at the beginning of each of its next three legislative body meetings. These will take place at approximately 5 p.m. on July 12, July 17, and Aug. 9 in the third-floor chambers of the Old Courthouse, located at 7 Main St. in the City of Batavia.

May 2, 2017 - 8:48am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, genesee county legislature.

City Republican Committee Chairman David Saleh's confidence in his party's slate of candidates soared Monday night with the news that former Genesee County Sheriff Gary Maha will be running for a seat on the County Legislature.

"All of our County Legislature candidates have done a very good job and Gary will be a great addition," Saleh said this morning, hours after City GOP representatives endorsed Maha for the legislature's Ninth District seat, a position that covers the City of Batavia's fourth and fifth wards.

"With a new (county) jail a major issue, and other key decisions to be made, Gary's experience is unparalleled."

City Republicans also backed City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. and At-Large Councilmembers Bob Bialkowski and Adam Tabelski for at-large positions in November's elections.

"We've got good continuity on City Council and we're going in the right direction," Saleh said. "In terms of experience, these three men bring value to city residents. All in all, we're very hopeful for November."

Jankowski has served as City Council president since 2016, and will be seeking his second term on the board.

Saleh said the GOP committee will conduct its chicken BBQ fundraiser on May 21 and "pull together with the candidates to prepare for the election."

November 15, 2016 - 8:49am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, genesee county legislature.

The complexities involved in sales tax distribution, especially as it is related to water usage and water treatment facilities, have prompted City of Batavia and Genesee County leaders to re-evaluate their path to reaching a new allocation agreement.

City Manager Jason Molino, speaking at Monday night's City Council meeting, said that "a lot of different complex issues are on the table" than there were 17 years ago when the sales tax allocation pact between the county and city originated.

"We're looking at how to approach this collectively," he said, in reference to a committee of city and county personnel that has been put together to carve out a new plan to replace the current one that expires in February 2018. "There are hundreds of millions of dollars involved here."

City Council, understanding that negotiations are ongoing, passed a resolution last night stating its intent to extend the sales tax agreement -- without modification -- with the county. Previously, Genesee County legislators voted to terminate the agreement in the event that talks on a new contract stalled.

As it stands now, the terms of the sales tax agreement provide the city with 16 percent of the sales tax generated in Genesee County, with the towns and villages splitting 34 percent (based on assessed valuation) and the county receiving 50 percent.

Molino has stated that the city's 16-percent share is more than it would receive if the sales tax/water treatment contracts weren't in place, adding that the city pays the county a surcharge of 60 cents per 1,000 gallons of water used and in return the county leases the water treatment plant from the city and reimburses the city for operational costs.

Additionally, the city buys water from the county (at a discounted rate) and the county sells water outside of the city. The revenue from the sale of water goes to pay for the infrastructure needed to distribute water to the towns.

The "oversight committee" is comprised of Molino and Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell; City Council members Eugene Jankowski and Kathleen Briggs; Genesee County legislators Raymond Cianfrini, Marianne Clattenburg and Robert Bausch; Bergen Town Supervisor Donald Cunningham, and Darien Town Supervisor David Hagelberger.

Meetings are scheduled over the next few weeks and progress reports will be given to the committee, Molino said.

This is good news to Council President Jankowski, who said Council is invoking "short deadlines (because) we're not going to let this go."

He also said he believes the team approach is the best way to proceed.

"It's important that there are concessions both ways, and that there is an understanding of each other's situation," he said.

October 24, 2016 - 7:57pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, genesee county legislature.

Extending a sales tax allocation agreement with Genesee County, a pact that is set to expire in February 2018, would be in the "best interest of the city and residents of the county," City Manager Jason Molino said to City Council at the governing body's Conference Meeting Monday night (Oct. 24).

Council is being asked -- via a resolution that will be considered at its next Business meeting on Nov. 14 -- to notify the county of its intent to extend the agreement without modification by Dec. 1, per terms of the contract.

The Genesee County Legislature, however, may not be so eager to continue the agreement as currently written, Molino said, and some legislators already have expressed a desire to delete this "notification clause" going forward.

"I would want to see that kept in as it serves a definite purpose -- what is your intent?" Molino said.

Molino gave a brief history of the sales tax allocation agreement, stating it originated in 1999 "in tandem" with the water treatment plant and water treatment facilities agreements and addresses the Genesee County public water supply system program, economic development and water demands in the county. 

The current terms of the sales tax agreement provide the city with 16 percent of the sales tax generated in Genesee County, with the towns and villages splitting 34 percent (based on assessed valuation) and the county receiving 50 percent. 

Molino said the city's 16-percent share is more than it would receive if the sales tax/water treatment contracts weren't in place.

He explained that the city pays the county a surcharge of 60 cents per 1,000 gallons of water used and in return the county leases the water treatment plant from the city and reimburses the city for operational costs.

Additionally, the city buys water from the county (at a discounted rate) and the county sells water outside of the city. The revenue from the sale of water goes to pay for the infrastructure needed to distribute water to the towns.

"It's a comprehensive rural approach where everybody is sharing the resources," Molino said.

Negotiations between city and county leaders are ongoing, Molino said, adding that if a "regional solution isn't obtained by July 1, 2017, that City Council may be requested to extend all three agreements for a one-year term, ending Feb. 8, 2019, to provide sufficient time to finalize and execute new agreements."

He said this would give the Office of the State Comptroller time to review, approve and process the amendment to the sales tax allocation agreement as required by state law.

Molino said that since all three agreements are "intertwined and dependent upon each other," any future accord must continue the existing relationship.

Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. and Council Member Kathleen Briggs are representing the city in talks with the county. Jankowski said that County Legislator Marianne Clattenburg, whose district is in the City of Batavia, also is involved in the negotiations and is "protecting our interests."

In other action, Council moved to its Business meeting, resolutions to:

-- Accept a $1,500 state grant for a child safety seat program; a $3,394 grant from Genesee County STOP-DWI for road checks, saturation patrols and impaired driving crackdowns on eight specific dates starting on Halloween and ending on Labor Day 2017; and an $11,400 state grant to participate in the statewide Police Traffic Services Program. The goal of the program is to increase seat belt use and reduce dangerous driving behaviors.

-- Develop an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) transition plan. The document is a regulatory requirement, said Public Works Director Matt Worth, that identifies "noncompliance in pedestrian accessible routes and facilities in the cilty's right-of-way, and outlines a plan and schedule for corrective action."

-- Transfer $83,050 from the construction line to the right-of-way acquisition line for the Healthy Schools Corridor sidewalk project set for next year. Worth said this became necessary after it was discovered that there were three properties in which the new sidewalk would encroach on private lands requiring either a permanent easement or property taking.

August 10, 2016 - 10:54am

The Genesee County Republican Party Committee on Tuesday recommended Batavian Kevin Earl for the position of Genesee County Attorney, replacing Charles Zambito, who will be taking over as Genesee County Court Judge on Jan. 1.

Earl, a lawyer for 38 years and former mayor of the Village of Le Roy, was selected over Mark Boylan of Le Roy at a meeting of the County GOP at the Old County Courthouse.

"Both were impressive and qualified candidates," said Richard Siebert, County GOP chairman, noting that Earl's willingness to relinquish his private practice and responsibilities for the towns of Batavia, Elba, Stafford and Oakfield likely swung the vote in his direction.

The Genesee County Legislature made the position a full-time one last year, setting the annual salary at $124,000. According to Legislature Chairman Raymond Cianfrini, the panel is expected to take action on the recommendation at its Sept. 14th meeting.

Earl, 64, said he has done a lot of work for the Republican Party over the years.

"I am grateful for the support of the Republican Party Committee, and am looking forward to working for the Legislature," he said.

A Batavia High School graduate, Earl went on to receive degrees from Cornell University and the University of Buffalo. He and his wife, Cathleen, are lifelong Batavians.

In another development, Siebert said the GOP appointed Genesee County Clerk Michael Cianfrini to serve the remaining year of the New York State Committee term vacated by LeRoyan John Rizzo. Barbara Eddy, of Alexander, is the other GOP representative from the 139th Assembly District on the NYS Committee.

September 15, 2015 - 1:13pm

Rochelle (Shelly) Stein, Genesee County Legislator, will be honored next week by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) for graduating from the NYSAC Pelletier County Government Institute. The ceremony will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at the 2015 NYSAC Fall Seminar in Lake Placid.

The NYSAC County Government Institute is an educational program established in conjunction with Cornell University. The Institute provides an educational program for county elected and appointed officials, to enhance the knowledge, skills and abilities of county officials. For more information, visit www.nysac.org.

Stein has served two terms as a Genesee County legislator, representing the Town and Village of Le Roy. She serves on the Human Services Committee and is highly engaged in the business of agriculture in the county and region. She seeks innovative ways to reduce the cost of government to local residents through collaboration and cooperation in all levels of government.

“The Institute’s vigorous curriculum prepares county leaders with the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the increasing demands of local government leadership in 2015 and beyond,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario.

Anthony Picente, president of NYSAC and Oneida County executive, agrees. “The County Government Institute equips county officials with the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to address the challenges and opportunities of leadership, and to engage in civil dialogue with constituents as well as fellow leaders.”

The County Government Institute's comprehensive curriculum includes extensive course work on government ethics, building consensus in a political environment, principles of county budget and finance, and public sector labor/management relations. The courses are supplemented with electives, training sessions, and continuing education courses designed to support county leaders in serving their constituents.

“The Pelletier Institute gave me the opportunity to build on my previous local government experience, learning other styles of government and finding a path toward reducing conflict while providing necessary services at an affordable cost,” Stein said.

The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving the counties of New York State including the City of New York. Organized in 1925, NYSAC’s mission is to represent, educate and advocate for Member Counties and the thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public.

September 23, 2014 - 8:12pm

Genesee County Deputy Frank Bordonaro, as demonstrated by his funeral, was an exceptional cop.  He was also a dad and husband who did it all.  Coached several youth sports, managed the household during the day and somehow kept it all afloat.  I worked for over 20 years directly and indirectly with his wife Robin at Eastman Kodak Company.  They were a team and have raised two exceptional young men in Bryce and Chase.

Frank’s passing could never have been expected.  A physical specimen, a fit and well groomed guy.  Who would have guessed?  Frank gave everything he had to his career.  I saw him in action at a serious fire in our neighborhood.  He was the consummate professional.  His day was never done.  It often leaked beyond his normal quit time which would delay Robin’s morning departure and arrival to Kodak.  He was dedicated to the nth degree to his career and to Genesee County.

Any unexpected passing creates colossal disruption to those closest to the deceased.  Shock, dismay, frustration, sadness, the words can go on and on.  This gnaws on both the emotional and less obviously the financial side of the family unit.  Tasks that need to be done, bills to be paid, life goes on yet with one income. 

Frank Bordonaro had built up through his years with Genesee County the maximum number of sick days.  This equal to one year of pay.  The funds for this are accrued or “banked” by the county in a fund for those times when the deputy needs them for health reasons.  Frank also had 19 years of active time with the County.  This one year short of making him “retirement eligible”.  I don’t think Frank, with two adolescent sons, was going to retire anytime soon but he was a year from being eligible.

Shortly after Frank’s passing, the Genesee County Sheriffs voted to not hold the county contractually responsible and encouraged the County Legislature to pay some portion of Frank’s sick time. This to possibly assist in Healthcare or for services covered by Frank’s compensation package in the past. 

And now the purpose of this editorial.  Our County Legislature elected not to pay this, even a percentage less than full.  Not one penny.  Shame on our County Legislature.  This is money sitting in a fund.  A great thanks and message of appreciation to one of their most dedicated servants taken way too soon.  Not a great demonstration of heart, compassion and appreciation.  Possibly some potential, large, retail chain needed tax relief.  So sacrifice a dedicated servant’s family?  Now I understand…..

Tom Frew

LeRoy

November 2, 2013 - 11:35am
posted by Robert Brown in genesee county legislature.
On November 5th, Genesee County residents will have the opportunity to elect the entire County Legislature body.  Of the 9 seats that are up for election, only 4 are contested.  It's disappointing to have the majority of our County representatives ushered into office without choice, not because those 5 people are unqualified or will do a poor job, but because we are missing out on the free discussion of ideas between a diverse base of candidates.  Options bring out the best of us and choices for voters make us stronger.  For the remaining 4 seats, we have 2 candidates each for Districts 5, 6, & 9 and 3 candidates for District 8 (City of Batavia Wards 2 & 3).
 
I am proud to be one of the 3 choices for District 8.  It humbled me to receive an endorsement from the Genesee County Libertarian Party when I decided to run for office as a group of people I had only known since January (save one person whom I had not seen since high school) had learned enough about me in the few short months it took for our party to form, organize, and hold a convention to put their trust and faith in me.  Those who saw me work as the initial Membership Committee Chair and currently as the Elections Committee Chair understand what I bring to the table in terms of dedication, drive, organization, and communications.  As a County Legislator I will leverage my 30+ years of professional experience to represent the citizens in District 8 with a commitment to fiscally responsible decision making and fairness.
 
We all know Genesee County is not treated fairly by the state.  We are taxed yet not equally supported.  What is imposed on us is not fully funded.  Despite our deep-seated belief in the Constitution we are squashed with rules and regulations like the S.A.F.E. Act.  However, what things are in our control we need to do a far better job of managing and our local government must first and foremost represent our citizens fairly.  What we cannot control locally, our elected local officials must actively fight for by relentlessly addressing concerns to our elected state officials.  Our local officials and government employees must not complain to the taxpayers about how mandates are crippling us, sigh, then invoke higher taxes.  Instead, we must represent those hardworking people and approach our assemblymen and senators, demand action, report on commitments and objectives, and call them out when there is no response.  The fight should not be left up to the every citizen to undertake alone.  As a County Legislator I will be committed to take Albany to task by engaging our state representatives on every possible occasion through every possible avenue to address our concerns.
 
The items under our immediate control are not insignificant.  The County Legislature instituted an additional 1% sales tax in 1994 to pay down debt.  Here we are 19 years later and we're not only still paying down debt, we're taking on new debt while the added tax lingers.  Sales tax revenue has increased over the last 10 years, but so have prices (most notably gasoline which has risen about $2/gallon over that period while influencing many other price points) and that simply adds to the burden on taxpayers who are paying more for less.  The County has a roughly $20M fund balance to bridge revenue gaps with an additional $9M in unallocated funds while carrying $14.5M in debt costing taxpayers $600K in interest payments in 2013 alone.  The County has borrowed millions to spend on infrastructure that only a few hundred of our 60,000+ citizens will ever use.  The County is losing over $1M annually on the County Nursing Home while the majority of our long-term care citizens have their needs met through privately run facilities in the county.  Band-aids will not stop the hemorrhaging.  The County has plans/commitments to spend millions on leasing space over the next decade.  Unemployment at or slightly below the state average is great, but it's been that way for years.  More telling is Genesee County's per capita income which is annually $4K-$5K below the state average.  The County annually funds the GCEDC with over $200K in cash plus pays one of the highest IDA salary and benefits packages in the state to their personnel who then waive millions in taxes for corporations who pay them 1% of every deal.  The jobs created under this model are often not full-time positions or able to raise the bar on per capita income.  The County implemented a local surcharge for auto registration, but what's the value add, especially to people who rarely drive?  To top it off, we're now facing a 2.22% increase in property taxes that will be enacted right after the election.
 
How is any of this fair to Genesee County taxpayers?  All of it has come to fruition through local decisions.
 
We need to make better choices and we need to change our approach.  We can learn from the folks at Independent Living of Genesee Region (ILGR) whose website (www.wnyil.org/ilgr) reads:
 
"ILGR is an agency dedicated to the idea the people deserve the right to live their life the way they choose.  Our philosophy is not to do things for you, but to give you the skills and resources to do it for yourself.  That’s the true meaning of independence."
 
Some of our most challenged citizens do not want handouts - they want to be educated, empowered to make their own choices, and treated with equality.  Long ago, I learned one of the keys to successful management is to break down barriers and provide the necessary tools for employees to get their jobs done.  Government needs to foster that for all of us.  Stop trying to do everything and instead start enabling.  Where we must offer services, we must do so with extreme efficiency.  We are not doing so today.
 
I continue to be available by phone, E-Mail, and social media.  Please take the opportunity to contact me with questions, concerns, and ideas.  I look forward to representing you and doing what I can to make Genesee County the most attractive and affordable place to live, shop, and do business in WNY.
 
Thank you for your consideration on November 5th.  Whatever your choice, please vote - you matter!

 

October 4, 2011 - 12:45am

For every department in Genesee County, this year’s mandated budget cuts are hard to swallow. The county legislature is forcing 5-percent cuts across the board, in order to fit the county budget under New York State’s new 2-property tax cap.

Nowhere is the hurt more apparent than at the County Office for the Aging. Director Pamela Whitmore had already lost $102,000 in annual state grant money this year – a significant blow to her 2012 budget. With the mandated 5-percent cut on top, the Office for the Aging will now have to eliminate over $134,000 in spending.

Whitmore likened the 5-percent cut to that proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

“People are not going to get the level of service that they’ve gotten in the past,” Whitmore told the legislature’s Human Service Committee on Monday night.

She announced a planned $5,000 reduction to “Meals on Wheels,” which will now be on a three day-per-week delivery schedule if her budget goes according to plan. There are also pending staff cuts, social program reductions and fewer hours available for in-home services.

“Less staff means less time to do that face-to-face information and assistance – which is really the majority of what we do,” Whitmore said after the meeting.

Her message is further highlighted by this year’s census report, which shows a 16-percent increase in the over-60-year-old population in Genesee County. The census bureau also estimates that the population over 85-years-old, which is the most expensive to serve, has jumped by 33 percent in Genesee County the past decade (official numbers are not yet available for that category).

“It’d be one thing if the grant losses were just taking one program away…but most of our losses just took parts of each grant away,” Whitmore said. “So in essence, most of our services are still available, but there (are fewer) resources to provide them.”

In another Human Services report Monday, Chris Kuehl from the county nursing home told committee members that the home was able to reduce five positions to just three by consolidating some worker duties. That will save the nursing home $47,233 this year, and $104,439 in 2012, if the cuts are approved by the full legislature.

Also at the Human Services Committee, members approved the nomination of David Whitcroft as the interim public health director for Genesee County. Whitcroft's nomination comes on the heels of Randy Garney's abrupt retirement a week-and-a-half ago. Whitcroft will be paid $65,106 plus $600 in longevity pay. He officially takes over on Wednesday, if approved by the full legislature.

January 31, 2011 - 7:19pm
posted by Lorie Longhany in GCEDC, genesee county legislature.

I don't think many would disagree that we all want a robust and aggressive job-creating engine in Genesee County. We also can agree that unfair tax burdens created the need for IDAs with their enticements and tax incentives in the first place.

In the big picture, we all want our county to be chosen as the next home to companies like: Barilla Pasta, Google, Yahoo or Geico -- and without an IDA we don't compete at all.

Even the smaller companies with a vision to produce a new product or service can help make our county vibrant and offer those vitally important, but few and far between, living wage job opportunities. Jobs that can lift our median income and bring some of our citizens their own little piece of prosperity-- the kind that bring money to other businesses by circulating it around our communities.

The jury is still out on how I perceive the GCEDC's, or any IDA's  performance. But I do firmly believe that more stringent oversight on pay rates and elimination of performance bonuses needs to swiftly be put in place by the Legislature to restore the public's trust. I'm also curious about the $500 bonus given to a consultant.

January 2, 2010 - 2:30pm

What is your opinion about the potential sale of the Genesee County Nursing home? Keep in mind that this is all preliminary, but it certainly appears that the county has begun the process. Take a look at this article:

http://thedailynewsonline.com/articles/2010/01/02/news/6327308.txt

As always, thank you for your time and consideration. Please don't forget to take a look at my blog considering a Women's Caucus as well.

October 30, 2009 - 1:24pm
posted by Chris Charvella in politics, Voting, genesee county legislature, Chris Charvella.

Dear Friends and Neighbors of the 8th District,

We are nearing the end of the campaign season and by Election Day I’ll have knocked on every door in the 8th District.  It has been a long and interesting road but meeting and talking with you has made it all worth the effort. 

Over the course of the campaign we have discussed balance, oversight and transparency as being the essential ingredients to an efficient and open government and it is plain to see how much you and I really believe in them.  So, today, I would like to put all of the campaign talking points and issues discussions aside and let you know what your vote means to me.

September 5, 2009 - 10:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Announcements, government, genesee county legislature.

The Genesee County Legislature meets Wednesday, 7 p.m., at the Old Courthouse.

Agenda (PDF)

Resolutions (PDF)

August 13, 2009 - 12:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county legislature.

The Genesee County Legislature plowed through a 39-item agenda last night, taking vote after vote on a series of resolutions with little discussion of the items.

(The legislature confines most of its discussion and fact finding on proposed resolutions to its committee meetings.)

Among the items approved:

  • Authorization for the Sheriff's Office to accept a $23,000 grant to buy Tasers.
  • Approved $59,100 allocation (part of the funds coming from a Homeland Security grant) for a rapid-response vehicle for the Sheriff's Office. The vehicle will be used in SWAT actions.
  • In order to facilitate the merger of the Le Roy dispatch center with the Genesee County dispatch center, purchase of a $7,200 upgrade to the New World Systems software that powers the dispatch center.
  • Appointed Cheryl Pfund of Batavia to the Mental Health Community Service Board.
  • Authorization of communication tower construction by ITT at the Genesee County Airport. The tower will be a 46-foot high monopole and require .015 acres of land. The FAA is requiring installation of Automatic Dependence Surveillance-Broadcast technology at the airport.
  • Renewed the county's extra 1-percent sales tax for another two years. The tax generates about $8 million annually for the county.

PDF: Download copies of all resolutions passed.

June 10, 2009 - 9:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county legislature.

County Legislators received a memo from County Manager Jay Gsell this evening suggesting that the legislature appoint a volunteer committee to review the idea of changing legislative terms from two years to four and to stagger the terms of the nine members.

The suggestion comes from the imposingly-long titled "Genesee County Comprehensive Plan Government Administration Focus Group," a committee of 11 administrators and community leaders.

The group met May 19.

The consensus was a larger group of volunteers who fairly represent the community should study the idea further and seek broad community input before fashioning a ballot proposal for the 2010 election.

"It is suggested that this volunteer focus/study group be carefully constructed to represent all aspects of the county; i.e., geographical, agriculture, business, construction, municipalities, political, health care, etc., and perhaps each Legislator could propose one group member with the Chair then submitting additional members to represent the various constituencies that should be involved" the memo reads. "There should be careful consideration of selecting a chair for the focus/study group who would provide, as far as possible, an impartial administrative-oriented position to the process."

A 2010 election is preferable, the memo states, to give the proposal a more deliberative process and ensure no changes are made prior to the 2010 census.

Participating in the May 19 meeting were Gsell, Frank Ciaccia, Lorie Cleveland, Susan Conklin, Scott German, Chester Kaleta, Lucine Kauffman, Ester Leadley, Karen Marchese, Don Read and John Rizzo.

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