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May 6, 2008 - 11:50am

More thoughts (from a Councilman)

posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, city council.

I've still had no luck catching the city manager or police lieutenant — both very busy men, it would seem. Must be tough business running a city and keeping it safe. I wouldn't doubt it. Fortunately, City Councilman Bob Bialkowski got back to me. We had a chat this morning about his thoughts on what's going on in the city these days.

Bob's a former crop-dusting pilot, "semi-retired" now, he says. That means he has "only one" airplane, from which he does aerial photography — his current business. He's been flying since he was a kid.

On his Web site bio, Bob mentions "community improvement" under his special interests. So I thought I'd ask him about that. So I ask him, quite simply: what needs to be improved, and how do we improve it?

"We've got some pockets of decline," he says. "We have to change some of our zoning laws, change code enforcement. We need to try to improve these areas."

That means public education on how to properly dispose of yard waste, for example. Get the word out to people, whether it's through the newspaper, through our site, in pamphlets included with the water bill — people need to be more aware, says Bob.

He says that "entire neighborhoods are a problem — trash all over, abandoned cars in the back yard." Head over to the southside of the city, to Jackson Street, over near Watson and Thorpe streets, State Street, and you'll see what he's talking about.

"But you can pick any street," he says.

Meanwhile, he goes on, the city has a tough time keeping up with all the violators. The code enforcement staff is minimal. Absentee landlords know how to work the system to "avoid" making the necessary improvements for "four or five months" at a stretch. Add to that the increasing crime rate — Bialkowski says the city department is 300 calls above their total for this time last year, which set records itself — and you've got a situation that could get out of control fast.

Nor is that all. Bob also takes issue with the taxes. They're too high, he says.

"Every year, more property in the city gets taken off the tax roll because of non-profits and tax exempts," he says. "And they use city services. They put their trash out by the street for pickup, but they don't pay for it."

In many ways, that's a valid claim, says City Assessor Michael Cleveland, who estimates the tax exempt properties in the city to total about 30 percent, without looking at the tax rolls. You have to understand, however, that Batavia is a county seat, he says. As the hub of Genesee County it's going to get the churches, the county offices, the organizations, all those who are tax exempt.

Could that just be the price of convenience then?

daniel cherry
daniel cherry's picture
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Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: May 6 2008 - 2:21pm
I happen to live on state street.119 state street.My boys and i have lived here for nearly 6 years now.I am single dad .Ihave a disability i was born with a spinal problem and i have a bad foot.Mike Ognibene MJO properties is our landlord.We are poor we get assistance from hud rural opportunities.Heres our story and it is true.In june 2002 we moved into this aparment #1 @ 119 state st batavia.Just after moving in a neighbor told me about the fire.I looked in our basement and i could not believe it.It was charcoal all under the back bedroom.I called the building inspectors mike smith.He said o its ok after he stuck a pocket knife in one main beam.By the way i checked there was no record of the fire anywhere in city records.But hud knew and never told us or id have not moved in.See they knew because blooms who lived here before us were on hud.Steve Sallomne was our first landlord he knew.He said it may stand forever but i never let my boys sleep in there.A couple years later was a flood the over flow on our boiler went.Our basement has no drain.So the landlord pumped it out and ran a drain into the floor like a leechbed.I know it cause i went down when i heard him jackhammering down there to see what the noise was.Then he drilled holes in the pipe and buried it under a main support beam to our apt house.Well he sold the house or shall i say dumped it to Mjo properties mike ognibene.I was so glad cause i heard mike ognibene was a godly man and goes to city church.Mrs ognibene never gave us a lease.She said "The lease will remain the same".Meaning we pay electricity she paid water and heat 740$ rent she said o don't worry.So we had no lease other than the old one.Well january 08 i heard people in the basement.I went down they were running wires upstairs for heat electric heat.I called hud they said call mrs ognibene.I did.She said we wont be paying only upstairs will.Whew i almost had a heart attack.Then 1/15/08 i get a letter from mjo properties mike ognibene.The letter says we will pay heat our rent will remain 740$.I called hud and told them.I called mrs ognibene i complained.I said hey our electricity alone is 150$so if we had a gas hot water an stove an dryer mabe we could afford it.She never replied,I hung up.The next thing i get a hud notice from becky hoak saying we gotta pay 122$ more cause we are only entitled a 2 bedroom.It was horrendous.Wer had a hud inspection march 14th 08.The hud inspector called barb toal.All i wanted was the twisted wire fixed that was goin to 4 1050 watt heaters.She wrote up the pipe that is buried and the structure problems.Hud only wanted a smoke alarm in each room and a hole in the wall fixed from the people before us.I fixed the hole my boys pulled off the tape and paint holding it on they were young when we moved in.Sallome had slapped a slab taped and painted it before.I had the fire dept put one alarm in the boys room.I have one outside my room.well hud failed our inspection.Barb toal sent mike ognibene mjo properies a letter to fix things.We got a letter from the mjo mike ognibene properties.It was served by a sheriff 2 days later.It says theyre not going to renew our lease.O yea we were supposed to sign an unconscienable lease from hell as punishment for complaining.We didn't.So its a nice way of telling my poor boys an i get out your evicted if ya dont.They got 32,000$ from us and hud.Now were being threwn out like trash.I cant find a place fer my boys.Look at all the empty homes in batavia.And we cant find one.You have no idea how it feels to be us.People like these get hug''e tax breaks.Our government helps them buy homes.So they flip them and make$$ big $$.We got screwed.MJO properties is selling 119 state for 179,900 it says many improvements a lie.If my poor boys and i don't find a place by 5/31/08 we'll be physically removed by a sheriff for no reason.We paid our rent!!Got any suggestions?I do make these landlords fix things instead of using us to flip homes.I have a utube my name is getjustice.you can see our lovly hud approved basement.Everthing on here is true.Why doesnt the news print things like this?? By the way look at lewis place.Nice eh? we coulda lived there.The poor should be heard.But they are afraid to speak cause look what happened to us...daniel cherry sr thanks so much mjo properties

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