Local Matters

Community Sponsors

October 21, 2020 - 12:16pm

The City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee on Tuesday night approved a special use permit that opens the door for the creation of two apartments on the second floor of the Main Street Pizza building at 206 E. Main St.

Applicant Paul Marchese, doing business as Just Chez Realty LLC, said the $489,000 project – which qualified for a Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant of $137,600 from the Batavia Development Corporation’s building improvement fund – advances to the next stage, which is “to finalize the engineering drawings and move the project into the construction phase.”

Marchese said planning committee members asked whether he is looking to renovate the other half of the upstairs as well.

“The plans for the other half of the upstairs have not been solidified as of yet,” he said. “At this point, we have acquired funding and grant sources and various things to complete phase one of our project. Phase two could be apartments or it could be something totally different depending on if we have a tenant that wants a specific build-out for up there.”

Concerning apartment rental rates, Marchese said that since the project was awarded one of the grants, it is bound by a predetermined rent schedule.

As previously reported on The Batavian, Marchese’s application calls for placing two apartments on the second floor and altering the building’s exterior by adding an entrance door on the south side, replacing windows, changing the nameplate on the north (front) of the building from MANCUSO to MARCHESE, and installing “up lighting” on that side.

Additional improvements include removing existing awnings and exposing the original transom windows, installing a new aluminum-clad wooden door on the north side and installing new aluminum-clad wood windows/door storefront in the center bay.

October 21, 2020 - 11:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in unemployment, jobs, news, notify.

Genesee County's unemployment rate, at 4.8 percent for September, is the lowest percentage it's been in 2020 but still significantly higher than its seasonal rate a year ago.

In August rate 2019, the rate was 3.4 percent.

Since the pandemic hit the economy, the local employment rate has been:

  • April, 14.4 percent
  • May, 10.1 percent
  • June, 9.5 percent
  • July, 10.5 percent
  • August, 8 percent

The lowest rate prior to September was in February and March at 4.9 percent. The pandemic-related job losses started in March but those job losses didn't start to show up in official statistics until April.

There are 28,900 county residents counted in the labor force. A year ago, there were 29,900 people in the local labor force.

Of those currently in the labor force (people who are employed or are actively looking for work), 27,500 have jobs. There are 1,400 looking for work.

For September, there were 21,200 non-farm jobs in Genesee County compared to 23,000 a year ago. Of those, 15,700 are in the private sector (compared to 17,400 a year ago).

October 20, 2020 - 7:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, news, downtown.


Legacy Insurance Group held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting today at the company's new office at 212 E. Main St., Batavia.

Legacy Insurance will be a local resource for Medicare Advantage plans through UnitedHealthcare, as well as several life insurance options, and can help with navigating health insurance choices on the NYS of Health Marketplace. 

Agent Diana M. Wagner resides in Stafford with her husband, Ron, and two of her three children, Bobby and Rachel.

In the photo, Wagner cuts the ribbon surrounded by friends and family along with Tom Turnbull, president of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, and Ken Sciarrino, from United Healthcare (holding ribbon on right).

October 20, 2020 - 6:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news.

Press release:

As of 2 p.m.:

  • Genesee County received zero new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • Two of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
    • Fourteen new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
  • Orleans County received four new positive cases of COVID-19 for a total of 356 positive cases
    • The new positive cases reside in Albion, Ridgeway, Shelby and Murray.
    • One of the new positive individuals is under mandatory isolation out of state.
    • The individuals are; one is 0-19 yrs. old, one is in their 20s, one is in their 40s, one is in their 60s.
    • None of the individuals were on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Three new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
October 20, 2020 - 4:11pm
posted by Press Release in election 2020, news, NY-27, Duane Whitmer.

Press release:

With the National Guard under orders from Governor Andrew Cuomo to subject innocent New Yorkers to an unconstitutional quarantine, Republican Representative Chris Jacobs should be calling on his “friend” President Donald Trump to order the Guard to stand down. But as usual, when Cuomo seizes power, Rep. Jacobs is nowhere to be found.

This should’ve been known from his Yea vote on S7919, where he rolled over as soon as the Governor demanded unilateral power over the state. Luckily for voters in NY-27, there is a candidate brave enough to stand up to Andrew Cuomo.

Duane Whitmer, the Libertarian candidate for NY-27, Erie County Libertarian Party chairman, and 2nd vice chairman of the Libertarian Party of New York, held a press conference with 2ANYS yesterday where he called on President Trump to order the National Guard to not enforce the unconstitutional quarantine.

He went on to call out Rep. Jacobs for being completely silent on the issue. And now, he is calling on Rep. Jacobs to answer to the voters for his complacency at Wednesday morning’s Saint Joe’s University Congressional Debate. 

Rep. Jacobs refused to show up to the University of Buffalo’s debate last night, resulting in the debate being cancelled. He is refusing to show up to tonight’s debate with the University of Geneseo.

This is a sign that Jacobs “knows what he’s done is inexcusable,” Whitmer said. “We cannot afford to have a representative who is asleep at the wheel during these unprecedented times. When you apply for a job, you wouldn’t skip the job interview would you?

"That’s exactly what we’re seeing from Chris Jacobs, and it’s completely unacceptable. The residents of NY-27 deserve better, and I intend to make that case tonight, tomorrow, and every day until November 3rd.”

October 20, 2020 - 3:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in Great American Smokeout, news, GOW reality check, art.

Press release:

Reality Check programs of Western New York are getting creative to honor this year’s Great American Smokeout. As communities continue to grapple with the challenges of COVID-19, the youth coordinators in the GOW Region decided the safest (and fun) way to help young people demonstrate their leadership is through an art contest.

The deadline to submit entries is Nov. 13. Winners will be announced on Nov. 19, the date of this year’s Great American Smokeout.

“We miss doing group events like cigarette butt pickups, educational events, and watching our young people champion issues they believe in,” said Brittany Bozzer, GOW Reality Check coordinator. “This art contest will build awareness on the impacts of tobacco use and help ensure that youth voices are a part of the solution for healthier communities.”

The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout is an annual event that encourages and offers support to smokers to make a plan to quit smoking or to quit smoking on the day of the event – Thursday, Nov. 19. By quitting – even for one day – smokers will be taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing their cancer risk. 

Contest Details

Creative Western New Yorkers between the ages of 12 and 18 are encouraged to virtually submit a piece of artwork that highlights the dangers of tobacco use or why they want their community to be tobacco free. Artwork can be a poster, poem, comic, photo or video. Winners will be chosen in two age groups: 12-14 years old and 15-18 years old. 

Youth are asked to submit their masterpiece, along with their name, age, school name, phone number and guardian’s name, to:   [email protected]

About Reality Check

Reality Check is a youth-led movement in New York State that empowers youth to become leaders in their communities in exposing what they see as the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. The organization’s members create change in their communities through grassroots mobilization and education.

Reality Check groups work in their communities by trying to limit the exposure of tobacco marketing in stores, help make smoke/vape-free public, work, and housing spaces, and limiting the exposure to smoking/vaping in movies.

These initiatives are to help discourage young people from becoming new daily smokers and encourage current smokers to quit. More information can be found at realitycheckofny.com and tobaccofreenys.com

October 20, 2020 - 2:40pm

Submitted photo and press release:

Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr. has received a letter of endorsement from retired Genesee County Sheriff Gary T. Maha.  

"I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work with Sheriff Maha for nearly 40 years with 21 of those years as his Undersheriff," Sheron said. "This provided me with the experience and knowledge to meet the demands associated with being Sheriff of Genesee County. Thank you Sheriff Maha for your support."


Dear Genesee County Voters:

I have known Sheriff Bill Sheron on a professional level for over 40 years. He served as my Undersheriff (second in command) for 21 years, and I can attest that he is a dedicated, compassionate, and professional law enforcement executive. Bill Sheron is highly qualified to continue as your Sheriff. 

He is a lifelong resident of Genesee County, raised his children here, and has resided in the City of Batavia his entire life. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and received his A.A.S Degree from Genesee Community College. Bill attended the prestigious F.B.I. National Academy, Quantico, Virginia, and attended the F.B.I. Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar. He is a Past President of the New York State/Eastern Canada chapter of the F.B.I National Academy Associates. In addition, he has over 27 years of experience in law enforcement/corrections administration with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office. He came up through the ranks of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office and knows all facets of the agency.

I encourage you to support and reelect Sheriff William A. Sheron.


Gary T. Maha


October 20, 2020 - 2:29pm
posted by Press Release in steve hawley, NRA, news, Second Amendment, election 2020.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley is celebrating his endorsement and continued partnership with the National Rifle Association (NRA) as he continues his reelection campaign. Hawley, a gun owner himself and a firm believer in the Second Amendment, is proud to continue his relationship with the NRA.

“I am both humbled and honored that the NRA has recognized me for endorsement,” Hawley said. “New York continues to push forward egregious and unnecessarily restrict gun laws, which often times do little but hinder the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

"Albany needs to understand that gun owners are not second-class citizens, and I will continue my fight to ensure the Second Amendment rights of New Yorkers are protected.”

While widely recognized today as a major political force and America's foremost defender of Second Amendment rights, the NRA has, since its inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world.

But their successes would not be possible without the tireless efforts and countless hours of service their nearly five million members have given to champion Second Amendment rights and support NRA programs.

October 20, 2020 - 2:24pm

Press release:

The Batavia Business Improvement District (BID) has rolled out Downtown Batavia BINGO Boards, sponsored by M&T Bank. Downtown BINGO allows people to get out and about, exploring our community and supporting our small businesses safely.

All BINGO tiles must be completed specific to Downtown Batavia Businesses only. Find a full list of Downtown Businesses at www.DowntownBataviaNy.com

Downtown BINGO Boards are available online at www.DowntownBataviaNY.com. Get five spaces in a row and win prizes, courtesy of Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District and M&T Bank. Rules and regulations for BINGO are available online.

For more information on B.I.D. and Downtown events please visit our website at www.downtownbataviany.com.

October 20, 2020 - 2:08pm

From The Genesee County Board of Elections:

Early Voting

General Election Early Voting begins this Saturday, Oct. 24th and will run for nine days prior to the General Election. The Early Voting location is at County Building 2, 3837 W. Main Street Road, Batavia.

The schedule for Early Voting is as follows:

  • Oct. 24th -- 12 to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 25th -- 12 to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 26th  -- 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 27th -- 12 to 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 28th -- 12 to 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 29th --  9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 30th --  9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 31st -- 12 to 5 p.m.
  • Nov. 1st -- 12 to 5 p.m.

Public transportation to County Building 2 is available (fees are applicable) only for the weekday voting until 3 p.m. through Dial-A-Ride by appointment with RTS by calling (585) 343-3079 one day in advance.

Absentee Application Deadlines

The last day to postmark an application for an absentee ballot is Oct. 27th and the last day to postmark an absentee ballot is Nov. 3rd (Election Day).

Absentee applications can be applied for over the phone until Oct. 27th by calling Board of Elections at (585) 815-7804. After the 27th, applications will have to be filled out in person at Board of Elections, 15 Main St., Batavia, up until Nov. 2nd.

Absentee ballots may be dropped off in person at Board of Elections up until close of polls on Nov. 3rd (9 p.m.) or in any polling site absentee drop box – please ask a poll worker for assistance. If mailing an absentee ballot, it must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3rd and returned no later than Nov. 10th

Election Day Voting
All poll sites will be open on Tuesday, Nov. 3rd from 6 a.m. – 9 p.m. If you have any questions regarding your poll site please call Board of Elections at (585) 815-7804.

October 20, 2020 - 2:02pm

The Batavia City School District Board of Education continues to explore the most effective ways for citizens to make their feelings known during its monthly meetings.

District Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr., following up on Board President Alice Ann Benedict’s desire to open the communication lines with the public, said he has come up with several recommendations that could be included in a “public expression” policy.

The board met on Monday night at the high school library.

Soler said his suggestions will be forwarded to the district’s Policy Committee for review and “vetting” before coming back to the full BOE for approval.

“The law technically allows us to have no public participation (during board meetings), but we are making a smart effort to make sure that there is (time for public comments) and I think that is a compliment to the board’s leadership,” Soler said.

The Batavia BOE, according to its policy, encourages public participation on school-related matters at board meetings, setting aside 30 minutes at the beginning of the sessions.

Beyond that, Soler said, currently there aren’t any guidelines or details in place to govern the public sessions.

He said his recommendations were derived from looking at the policies of similar-size districts, such as Geneva and Niagara Falls, as well as the large school districts of Buffalo and Rochester.

They are as follows (subject to review by the Policy Committee):

  • Persons wishing to address the board shall advise the board president prior to the scheduled starting time of the meeting. The request shall be made in writing on a form provided by the district clerk and shall include the name of the speaker, their address, name of organization represented (if any), and the topic to be addressed. Any group or organization wishing to address the board must identify a spokesperson.
  • Presentation should be as brief as possible. Each speaker will be permitted to speak for three minutes. Speakers may comment on any matter related to district business. The board cannot and will not permit public discussions involving individual district personnel or students. Persons wishing to discuss matters involving individual district personnel or students should present their comments and/or concerns to the teacher, the building administrator or superintendent during regular business hours.
  • All speakers are to conduct themselves in a civil manner. Obscene language, libelous statements, threats of violence, statements advocating racial, religious, or other forms of prejudice will not be tolerated.
  • Persons making presentations at a board meeting will address remarks to the president and may direct questions or comments to board members or other district officials only upon the approval of the president. Board members and the superintendent shall have the privilege of asking questions of persons who address the board.
  • Without opening the floor to general audience participation, the board president may call upon staff members or other specially qualified persons whom the board wishes to hear in relation to a specific agenda topic.
  • Questions and comments from the public concerning matters which are not on the agenda will be taken under consideration and referred to the Superintendent for appropriate action. Persons wishing to have matters included on the agenda shall contact the superintendent in accordance with Policy 1510, Regular Board Meetings and Rules (Quorum and Parliamentary Procedure).

​Soler said the board president would rule on matters such as the time to be allowed for public discussion and the appropriateness of the subject being presented. The president also would have the right to halt any presentation that violates the adopted policy.

The form for those wishing to speak at BOE meetings must be filled out in advance. It can be obtained by contacting the superintendent’s office at (585) 343-2480.

In another development:

Soler reported that the principals at the four schools are continuing to work toward maximizing learning, with John Kennedy Principal Brian Sutton exploring the possibility of having all second-graders back in the building for in-person instruction every day.

"We're trying to manage which grades can (go back to in-person learning) and which grades can't, but unfortunately some of our classes have higher enrollments and we can't bring everybody back," he said.

At Batavia High, Principal Paul Kesler are looking at students who are 100 percent virtual but are having difficulties with their studies, with the goal of shifting them back into the school -- even if it isn't on an everyday basis -- as long as their parents are in agreement.


October 20, 2020 - 1:53pm

Press release:

Problem gambling may not be a common topic discussed this month -- Domestic Violence Awareness Month; however, the link between domestic violence and problem gambling makes it important to bring awareness to this volatile relationship.

Domestic violence is defined as violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner, which may include physical violence; sexual, psychological, social, or financial abuse; harassment; and stalking.

A recent study of help-seeking gamblers found that 49 percent of participants reported being a victim of violence and 43 percent had perpetrated violence (Bellringer et al., 2017).

A person with a gambling problem may experience intense mental and emotional distress which may be expressed through restlessness, irritability or violence. Someone’s gambling problem may also elicit similar distress from a loved one. The person gambling may be the perpetrator or victim of domestic violence. 

Furthermore, there is already evidence that domestic violence increases during professional sporting events due to the emotions experienced from a “home team’s” upset loss, citing issues like consumption of alcohol, increased interactions with family during games, increased expectations for a positive outcome, and increased stress and anxiety.

Our community, the state and the country are seeing increased availability and prevalence of sports gambling, daily fantasy sports, and the like. What happens when those high stakes are further intensified by having large sums of money on the line, potentially for multiple sporting events? 

In many ways, this October is unlike any in the past, but some things remain constant – there are many people who will isolate themselves out of fear or shame and will not reach out for the help they need. Domestic Violence Awareness Month gives us an opportunity to offer hope to those experiencing violence in the home. 

Problem gambling and domestic violence can impact anyone. If you are experiencing domestic violence or problem gambling, confidential services are available:

  • Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • Western Problem Gambling Resource Center: (716) 0833-4274

The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) is a program of the New York Council on Problem Gambling dedicated to addressing the issue of problem gambling within New York State. The vision of the PGRC is the positive transformation of lives harmed by problem gambling.

The PGRC focuses efforts on increasing public awareness of problem gambling; connecting clients with treatment, recovery and support services; working with the gaming industry to promote responsible gambling; and promoting healthy lifestyles, which foster freedom from problem gambling.

Visit www.NYProblemGamblingHELP.org to learn more about the PGRC network.  

Jeffrey Wierzbicki – Western PGRC Team Leader

Angela DiRosa – Western Program Manager

October 20, 2020 - 1:42pm

Press release:

The New York State DanceForce, in partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts, announces the fourth cycle of the Western New York Choreographers’ Initiative (WNYCI).

The program provides professional development for choreographers living in New York’s 17 westernmost counties: Chautauqua, Niagara, Erie, Cattaraugus, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Allegany, Monroe, Livingston, Wayne, Ontario, Yates, Steuben, Chemung, Schuyler and Seneca.

The application deadline is Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. EDT.

The WNY Choreographers’ Initiative is designed to help WNY resident choreographers develop their choreographic skills by providing them with appropriate resources that are generally unavailable or unaffordable. These resources include a minimum of 24 hours of creative time, professional dancers, the guidance of a mentor chosen by the artist, and a $2,500 stipend.

The exact design of the project will depend on COVID-19 health recommendations at the time of the project. Two choreographers will be selected for the award in 2021.  

“This initiative is open to choreographers working in all dance genres. Each project is basically a mini-residency, designed to fit the specific needs of each artist,” said WNYCI coordinator Lois Welk. “In 2020, the artists were doubly challenged to reinvestigate their choreographic habits -- first by the mentor and then by COVID-19.”

The New York State DanceForce is a consortium of 19 dance activists committed to increasing the quantity and quality of dance activity throughout New York State. Each of our members receives an annual allocation to create projects that bring dance artists to upstate NY communities in customized residencies.

Since its founding in 1994, the DanceForce, through the work of its members, has funded over 400 projects, raising more than $3 million in support of these endeavors.

Complete guidelines and application forms, can be found at www.danceforce.org. For more information contact WNYCI coordinator Lois Welk at: [email protected].

October 20, 2020 - 12:00pm

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! You have the right to a safe workplace. Federal laws state that your employer must provide a work area with no known health or safety hazards. You also have the right to: 

  • Be protected from toxic chemicals;
  • Request an OSHA inspection, and talk with the inspector;
  • Be trained in a language you understand;
  • Work on machines that meet safety regulations;
  • See copies of the workplace injury and illness log;
  • Get copies of test results done to find hazards in the workplace;
  • Be provided required safety gear, including but not limited to: hard hat, gloves and harness;
  • Report an injury or illness, and get copies of your medical records If you or someone you know has been injured or fallen ill due to unsafe work conditions. 

Call Dolce Panepinto at (716) 852-1888 immediately. We understand how life altering a work injury can be, and we are here to help. Click here to visit us online.

October 20, 2020 - 11:39am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, batavia city school district.


Although COVID-19 mandates are forcing students and teachers to cover their faces, they “can’t mask the Batavia pride,” according to Kathie Scott, public information coordinator for the Batavia City School District.

On Monday, Scott posted information about “Can’t Mask the Batavia Pride!” on the district’s redesigned website, writing that the campaign is “in response to all the reorienting that has been required to reopen school – from social distancing and face mask mandates, to hybrid and virtual learning and sport delays/cancellations.”

Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. informed the school board about the campaign at its meeting Monday night at the high school library (which can be viewed on the district’s YouTube channel).

Scott said the campaign “has been in the works for a while,” with discussions taking place with the fire department, police department and others throughout the community to make it happen.

“I’ve received a couple of emails since it went up … and we’re just looking forward to people participating,” said Scott, who has worked behind the scenes for almost 25 years to keep the public abreast of the district’s positive developments. “I know that there is a lot of community pride in Batavia, so it’s kind of a natural extension of that.”

Per the website:

“Can’t Mask the Batavia Pride!” is a reminder to our community of learners that there is something that hasn’t changed: the pride of and in Batavia. Community members like you are sharing a few positive words of encouragement, pride, appreciation, and/or support that will mean a lot to our students, their families, and staff.

Scott said there are several ways people get display their Batavia pride, including ordering a large Blue Devil head-on-a-stick mask that can be delivered or picked up by calling her at (595) 343-2480, ext. 1018, or sending her an email at:   [email protected].

Other options are taking a digital photo or recording a short video (maximum of 30 seconds) with the mask, but not covering the face; or providing a short positive message of support, encouragement, pride or appreciation -- directed to students, staff, and/or families.

Click here for more information.

Soler also talked about the new school district app that is available for Android and iPhone -- Batavia CSD, NY.

With the new app, people can access documents, events, news updates, and even emergency notifications.

It can be downloaded on Android at https://bit.ly/3i6EAyc or iPhone at https://apple.co/3jOg8ls.

In another development, Soler thanked the board members “for their commitment to the City of Batavia and to its children” in conjunction with School Board Recognition Week (Oct. 19-23) as designated by the NYS School Boards Association.

“Each of you devote countless hours to make sure our schools are helping every child to learn at a high level,” said Soler, adding that board trustees make tough decisions, develop a budget and provide accountability that our citizens expect.

He then presented each board member with a travel bag as a token of the district’s appreciation.

Photo from Batavia CSD website: Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. with the Blue Devil head-on-a-stick mask.

October 20, 2020 - 10:03am

In his fourth week as interim executive director of the Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council, Jay Gsell said he is focused on networking throughout the agency’s nine counties to help the region bounce back from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gsell was back at the Old County Courthouse on Monday afternoon, in the legislative chambers – upstairs from the office where he spent one day shy of 27 years as the Genesee County manager. He retired in August and, about a month later, accepted the interim position with G/FLRPC.

During a review of the regional planning council’s recent activities for the legislature’s Public Service Committee, Gsell said a $400,000 CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant awarded to the G/FLRPC will go a long way toward “disaster and recovery planning, and resiliency planning from the pandemic but also what it is going to look like coming out on the other side.”

“We will be working closely to see what the GCEDC (Genesee County Economic Development Center) and others are doing in terms of once COVID is under control and putting that into perspective,” Gsell said. “And we will be working with the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and others to make sure you are not duplicating effort but also how do we come together to make sure the region comes back.”

The G/FLRPC qualified for the grant through its designation as an Economic Development Administration-designated Economic Development District.

Gsell said he is working out of an office on the eighth floor of a building owned by a private developer in downtown Rochester, commuting from his Batavia home five days a week for about five to six hours per day. He said he has an open-ended contract with the agency.

“It’s really up to what the executive committee (which includes Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein and Esther Leadley of Pavilion) and the regional board want to do as far as the time period,” said Gsell, who is temporarily filling the position that was manned by David Zorn until his retirement after about 29 years on the job.

Gsell said Zorn told him that he worked about 35 hours a week doing the basic job and spent another 30 doing “everything else.”

“Dave Zorn did a great job … now I’m starting to liaison with other agencies they deal with, and the other counties -- starting to network like Dave had done.”

Gsell said the G/FLRPC has an annual budget of around $700,000, with Genesee County providing $9,400 each year.

“It has been a flat level of county funding for a number of years and we don’t expect that to change,” Gsell said, noting that larger counties, such as Monroe, contribute more to the agency which has four full-time employees with an average tenure of about two and a half years.

He said the G/FLRPC benefits Genesee County through its work on behalf of watershed development, on comprehensive plan updates and government workshops to help local zoning officials get their mandatory hours of training every year.

“Plus, the grants that are coming in support all the counties and we also have an alliance with the Genesee Transportation Council and each of the municipal planning departments in the county,” he said.

The G/FLRPC was established in 1977 and set up “to do transportation funding, infrastructure funding, wastewater quality, environmental funding activity, and to be clearing house for grants for other organizations to help them focus on the bigger picture," Gsell said.

Counties in its original membership were Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne and Yates. Wyoming County was admitted in 1986. The nine counties in the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region comprise 4,680 square miles, with a population exceeding 1,217,000 residents.

The voting members of the Council are chief elected officials, local legislators, department heads and community leaders representing the participating counties, City of Rochester and the community at-large.

October 20, 2020 - 8:29am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Genesee County Planning Department, 2020 Census.

Over the past several months, the Genesee County Department of Planning was diligent in getting the word out about the 2020 Census.

At every opportunity, Planning Director Felipe Oltramari made it known the significance of the census upon local governments, with statements such as the following (paraphrased):

“The census not only counts our population, but determines our congressional representation and the allocation of federal funding to numerous programs, including Medicaid and Head Start, and to hospitals, fire departments and other vital services.”

On Monday afternoon, Oltramari reported the results of the efforts of his department – which was assisted by the Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council -- during a planning department review at the Genesee County Legislature’s Public Service Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse.

Oltramari said that the self-responded percentage in Genesee County was 65.6 percent, a bit higher than the percentage for all of New York State (64.2 percent, according to the 2020 Census website). The remaining 35.7 percent of the state population was obtained by census takers – officially called Enumerated in Nonresponse Followup.

The state’s total of 99.9 percent enumerated is the figure reported by 2020 Census for every state in the union through Oct. 16, which was the census deadline day.

“The additional percentage was in-person enumeration – persons going to homes and sometimes visiting their neighbors, by proxy, to reach the 99.9 percent mark,” Oltramari said. “We don’t get to see the totals for all the counties at this point – only the statewide results.”

Per the 2020 Census tabulations, Minnesota had the highest self-responded percentage at 75.1 percent and Maine had the lowest at 58.2 percent. Again, through the work of the census takers, all states are within 1/10th of 1 percent of having everybody counted.

In reviewing this year’s accomplishments, Oltramari said that the 2020 census outreach was his department's "biggest project of the year."

He also reported that the planning board: is projected to handle 110 zoning referrals; kicked off a comprehensive plan update and recreation plan known as Genesee 2050; hosted or sponsored more than 20 training seminars and webinars for local officials; and continued to provide mapping, Geographic Information Systems (GIF), Pictometry support and training to county departments, local municipalities and the general public.

“We also provide local technical assistance on projects such as the solar project in Byron and the Darien comprehensive plan, and assist with planning and zoning issues to help municipalities save money,” he said.

For 2021, special projects include continuing with the comprehensive plan update and recreation plan, working on a county resiliency plan, taking the lead on an environmental review of Phase 3 of the county’s water project and review of Agricultural District No. 4 (Byron, Bergen, Stafford and Elba).

Oltramari said the department will maintain three full-time employees – director, deputy director and GIS technician – with 96 percent of its budget going to cover salaries and fringe benefits.

October 19, 2020 - 5:06pm
posted by Press Release in Town of Bergen, 2021 Preliminary Budget, news.

Press release:

The Bergen Town Board has adopted its 2021 Preliminary Budget and set the budget public hearings for Tuesday, Oct. 27.

The public hearing on the tax cap override will be at 7 p.m., followed by public hearings on the Bergen Volunteer Fire Department budget at 7:15 and on the 2021 Town budget at 7:30.

Facing an unprecedented loss of revenues from the county as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board began cutting 2020 expenses this past spring. Board members took a reduction in pay; some personnel appropriations were trimmed; projects and equipment purchases were put on hold.

The moves helped offset a 14.4-percent loss in revenues from Genesee County and 20-percent withhold in various state aid.

The Board resolved early in the 2021 budget process to reduce Town expenses across the entire budget in order to lessen the impact to property taxpayers. All departments were asked to reduce spending.

In addition, a part-time position was eliminated and all wages frozen at the 2020 level. The 2021 preliminary budget cuts spending by $179,189 from the 2020 budget. Those savings were overshadowed by the estimated reductions of $181,706 in revenue from the county and $16,775 withhold of state aid. 

Another unexpected challenge faced by the Town Board was Genesee County no longer providing sales tax revenue and instead providing revenue that had to be referred to as a “voluntary revenue distribution.” While the money comes from sales tax, as the county no longer has an agreement with Towns/Villages to share sales tax, the only way they can share the sales tax is to call it a voluntary revenue distribution. 

It would seem that simply changing the name of a revenue stream from sales tax sharing to voluntary revenue distributions would not affect a Town’s budget, but it has, specifically the budget of every town in Genesee County that has a village within its border.

The NYS Comptroller has opined that voluntary revenue distributions cannot be used by Towns with villages to offset expenses like highway repairs and improvements; code enforcement and building and planning.

What that means is that for 2021, Bergen will have two different tax rates: one for properties within the village and one for properties outside the village. While this does occur in other places across the state, Bergen has typically had the same tax rate for all properties.

The result is a tax rate of $1.56 per thousand dollars of assessed value for properties inside the Village, which is a decrease of .71 cents per thousand and for properties outside the village, in the town, a tax rate of 2.39 an increase of .12 cents per thousand over the 2020 rate.  

According to the Genesee County Attorney and Manager, "this imbalance should be resolved in time for the 2022 budget." The county is requesting special legislation from the NY State Legislature to allow the voluntary contribution from the county to be treated like sales tax revenue was and therefore be able to record the revenue as we always had. 

If the state legislation is successfully enacted, the Bergen Town Board plans to return to a uniform tax rate for 2022. Of course, that will result in another swing – taxpayers within the village will see an increase in the 2022 tax bill, while taxpayers outside the village will see a decrease.

In other parts of the budget, the Fire District tax levy will be reduced by $6,295; the tax rate will remain the same for Water District No. 2; and the Peachey Road Water District rate will drop by about $50 per full EDU.

Residents of the new Water Benefit Area #1 will see their first water district tax bill in January. It is anticipated the amount will be $322.16 per EDU this first year and will increase to the expected $550 per EDU in 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the speed at which the water district approvals and bidding process are occurring. The delay means that the water lines will not be completed until September of 2022 and the Town will have less debt service to pay on the new water line in 2021 the previously anticipated.

“We are pleased to present a 2021 budget that enables the Town to deliver services despite historic financial upheaval,” said Supervisor Ernest Haywood. “We are grateful to all of our department heads who worked with us to accomplish this responsible budget.

"We certainly hope that 2021 brings the end to the pandemic and economic turmoil. We look forward to our residents being able to enjoy all of the services and programs that the Town has long provided.”

Top Items on Batavia's List

Apartment For Rent

Village of LeRoy One bedroom upper Water and sewer included. $650.00 plus electric Call 585-815-5793




Copyright © 2008-2020 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service

blue button