Although senators in Albany may not be inclined to consider the idea of New York becoming a “sanctuary state,” City Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian wants to make sure they know where she stands on the matter.
“I want us to draft a resolution and send it to (Assemblyman Steven) Hawley, (Senator Michael) Ranzenhofer, (U.S. Senator Charles) Schumer and (Gov. Andrew) Cuomo, letting them know that the City of Batavia is opposed to this bill,” Christian said toward the end of Monday night’s City Council meeting. “I want no sanctuary city or state.”
Christian spoke out against a bill – known as the New York State Liberty Act -- that was passed by the state Assembly on Feb. 6. The bill is under review in the Senate.
The bill provides certain protections and rights for immigrants, including standards governing law enforcement’s ability to question a person’s immigration status and/or start deportation proceedings.
Council President Eugene Jankowski said that he was under the impression that the Senate was not going to call for a vote on the measure, but Christian wasn’t deterred.
“I still would like to see if my colleagues agree with me,” she said. “It might not do anything but we are willing to try.”
After a brief discussion, Council voted to have City Manager Jason Molino draft a resolution against any measures to create a sanctuary state or city, referencing both the Assembly and Senate bills, and have it ready for an official vote at the board’s next Business meeting on March 13. (It then would be forwarded to the elected representatives, including U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand).
Jankowski added that he was on board with Christian’s motion, but noted that “it might be putting the cart before the horse.”
“I don’t think the Senate wants to oppose the federal government and a new president so early in his tenure,” he said.
It also was noted that Assemblyman Hawley did not support the bill, labeled A3049B.
In other developments, Council:
-- As expected, approved a resolution authorizing Jankowski to sign a settlement between the City and the Batavia City Centre Mall Merchants Association to resolve longstanding litigation over the City Centre Mall.
The vote came after Council went into executive session for about 30 minutes to go over details of the agreement.
All council members voted yes except Robert Bialkowski, who abstained because his wife is an employee of the Mall Merchants Association. The agreement now goes to the merchants, who also must sign it.
Two weeks ago, Molino announced that the City and the Mall Merchants Association crafted an 11-point “settlement framework” that calls for the City to retain ownership of the downtown facility's concourse, pay 100 percent of capital improvements and take care of mall maintenance and operations.
Additionally, the City will spend an estimated $650,000 to fix the roof, silos and skylights. Moving forward, the City would impose a user fee based on each merchant’s property square footage.
Bialkowski said he had his doubts about the deal, citing the history of the mall and the series of lawsuits filed by the City and the Merchants.
“I hope that this resolution works this time but when it was first built, it was a disaster,” he said. “The city tried running it itself, but then tried to unload it. I hope it doesn’t become an anchor around the taxpayers’ neck.”
Bialkowski added that he believes that “business should be best left in the private sector; it’s definitely more efficient.”
-- Held public hearings on the 2017-18 budget; cwater/sewer rates and capital improvement fee; amending the Batavia Business Improvement District plan, and a Community Development Block Grant. No one from the public spoke.
Thus, Council members likely will vote in two weeks on the City's proposed $23.9 million spending plan that calls for a 0.9 percent tax increase.
-- Moved forward to the March 13th meeting several resolutions, including one that retains Freed Maxick for financial auditing services for another five years, and another that approves a $90,000 increase in the final cost of the Summit Street reconstruction project (which still came in $250,000 under budget).