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February 7, 2012 - 5:13pm

City council approves $1,500 annual raise

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council.

On a vote of 6-3 Monday night, the Batavia City Council approved a $1,500 annual raise for themselves.

Council pay will bump from $2,000 annually to $3,500.

It's the first pay raise for the council in 20 years.

New council members Brooks Hawley, Chris Doeringer and John Canale voted against the raise.

Michael Pullinzi
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It's not popular, but City Council should have a raise up to $20K effective after the next election. It's a tough job with a lot of time spent and the only way we are ever going to get more qualified Council Members. The Town of Batavia Council still makes more than double than Batavia City Council and there are a heck of a lot more people in the City. Higher salaries will bring more competition for Council positions. Young citizens who have an eye on keeping Batavia moving forward for themselves and family would be able to afford the time and Retirees with real experience in our Community and Buisness would be more willing to devote the time it takes. You only get what you pay for and the end result is better Government that translates into savings that will more than offset the salary costs and provide a better Community for all.

John Roach
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And the raise does not take effect to 2013, another year away.

Phil Ricci
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Totally disagree with this.

What I find interesting is that council can vote to give themselves a raise. Why is that? Why would we take voter approval out of the charter? That's horrible.

Mark Potwora
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I agree with Phil...Why did they take voter approval out of the charter....Didn't take council long to act on this......It would be different if they were doing things that were going to grow Batavia...We keep losing population every year...And they still have the nerve to raise taxes year after year...What did they do last year besides pass a law about smoking and drinking in the park..Can't believe 5 new members on council and two of them vote for this...Hope they don't stay around long...,,,Most on council have houses assessed at less then 80,000 dollars so this tax increase they are voting on won't effect them too much,plus they got a raise to pay for it...They are also planning on giving management a 1.5% raise.......They don't even have any type of plan to stop these tax increases year after year,and yet they think they should get a raise,,,What has been done about the Mall..Someone brought up how the town of Batavia gets paid more..At least that town board is bringing in new business ,growing their tax base...They have a 0 tax rate...If our council did that then maybe they should get a raise...But not now.......All council could come up with to cut out of the budget was some flower money, and a enclouser for the trash.....Thats working hard to trim expenses,that deserves a raise....They should not be raising taxes at all........We got rid of the ambulance,we paid off the million dollar debt that past councils created,we get more from the race track,we also got more sale taxes dollars this year and assessments were raised..Seems like revenue has been increased.....I think the tax rate should be lowered.....

Charlie Mallow
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The new people voted against the raise because, they have no idea what they got themselves into yet. It's one thing to donate all your free time to public service, it's another to donate all your free money as well.

Mark, believe it or not, I usually agree with you but, those people really should have their expenses covered.

John Roach
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One reason is that the public is never going to vote to approve any public servant getting a raise. People will always say no. When in the past 20 years has anyone said council deserves more? If you object to the raise, then don't vote for them or better yet, run against them. Running is very easy, it's winning that's hard.

The City will never have a zero tax rate. The people want a paid police department and a paid full time fire department. The want youth services, they want subsidized city owed housing like 400 Towers. The big manufacturing companies that use to be here are gone, and not likely to come back. And some here do not want government incentives used to try and bring them back, right?

We also have the State mandating retirement costs. We have equipment that has to be replaced (like the fire truck). We also have increased cost for utilities, like gas and water (we could just stop putting out fires I guess).

Unless you cut public safety, like the police as Phil suggested in the past, where are you going to make big cuts?

John Roach
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By the way, it's not really 5 new people. While Mr. Russell is new this year, it is his 3rd time on Council (just for the record).

Mark Potwora
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Charlie ,then let them submit their expenses to the city and then they can be reimbursed....Don't they get tax a write off for what they do on council...Does anyone think with a tax rate that has no limit on how high it will be going, think that any one would build here when you can go over to the town and pay less in taxes......The city can get rid of trash pick and leave it up to the homeowner.Why are we charging for trash pick up on how much your house is worth..Sounds wrong to me....Thats a cost to the city that isn't mandated to do....Giving out raises isn't a state mandate...Paying for healthcare isn't a mandate.....Do we really need a fire chief and a police chief...Why not combine that job......What happened to all the talk of a metro county wide police force. That will save money.Do we really need city county and state police all in Batavia.....what happened to the plan to have half paid and half volunteer fire dept....John what do you mean we can just quit putting out fires..Thats dumb...The town has volunteers and they put out there fires..In fact towns with populations greater than Batavia have volunteer fire fighters..So let not say that their isn't room to make changes....So how high should the tax rate go before we have to take drastic measures...Maybe instead of raising these rates we were lowering them we would attract new businesses.........Are we just going to keep everything the same and not revamp the size and scope of the fire and the police..When will this come to a head .when Batavia shrinks by another couple of thousand..Metro police force and a part volunteer part paid fire force that should be the direction ,not the same old same old.......If council would attack these issues then i can see paying them more money...But there are not...It just business as usually...They can't even deal with the Mall that is an eyesore to all of Main St......What happened to those 60,000 dollars studies...This is why we need our taxes raised to pay for more studies...

Daniel Jones
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John - I challenge the assumption that manufacturing cannot make a comeback in this country and in this region as manufacturing is on the rise again. Smart investments made over the last few years in our energy grid and in our tax structure encouraging manufacturing have caused a few years straight of manufacturing growth. It's a new-style, but it's still America making things and areas of our county are prime for industrial growth.

John Roach
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Dan,
Small scale manufacturing may come back, but the big plants, like Bataiva had in the 50's is not. Things like "Project Wave" and the SMART project are what will be coming into this area, but don't look for heavy equipment, TVs or farm tractors to be made in the city again.

Mark,
You're right, not putting out fires is dumb. The point was that we have to buy the water to put them out from Monroe County, it's an expense we can not control, is not cheap and must pay, like gas for city vehicles. Retirement costs are another expense we can not control, the State does.

And sure, we can replace the police and maybe the fire departments and we can cut garbage costs. But the public does not want to. They want the services they have now. They might bitch about the taxes, but want no major cuts. And next Monday, if the past is any indicator, only about 10 people will show up at the budget hearing for the budget. And of them, only one or two will say eliminate department like you and Phil have said in the past. Watch the crying if they try again to cut Youth Services, which can be done without too much trouble.

There is no public support for the big, meaningful cuts.

As for Council submitting expenses, instead of being paid, they can't get people to run now. Remember last November when 3 out 6 Council seats had no races? The School Board only had 3 people run out of a City of 15,000 people run last May. City Committees have vacancies right now with nobody wanting to serve for free. Volunteer fire departments have to consider tuition payments, tax breaks and some form of retirement pay to help get people to serve.

Here's a poll question: How many of us have served or tried to serve the public, for free in government, on a government committee or volunteer fire department?

Thomas Mooney
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John , Do you realy think we get our water from Monroe County . Our water department makes a ton of money from producing our own water from our wells and T. creek . The problem is that the revenue that is generated is put into the general fund for the council to grab it for all those mall studies and every other pet project .The filtration plant is in dire need of upgrades and repairs and should have plenty of money to do it with still a surplus but there isn't an account . Why do we continue to have bad practices and exspect a different result . John , I challange you to look into this . It is what it is , and it is wrong . Water was supposed to make us money and it does but where does the money go to ?

John Roach
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Thomas,
The water pumped out of Tonawanda Creek is not ours. The water deal, renewed again about 4 years ago, gives it to Monroe County Water Authority (MCWA). Only about 6 people bother to speak against it. When you pay your water bill, that money is then passed on. Basically, the city is just collecting it. That money does not stay in the City of Batavia

We do own the sewer plant and we own the water lines, but not the water. When they pass the higher water rate this year, it is because we have to pass on the costs passed on to us. Look at the two water storage towers on East Main Street Road. Both say MCWA, not the City of Bataiva.

As for the sewer fund, it was raided by past Councils to hide the need for tax increases. That practice has stopped and the fund is back in the black, but will need a lot more.

Mark Potwora
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I would also like to point out that some expenses for the year should be down..One of them being snow plowing and salting and over time.....There should be a saving there..Also natural gas fuel prices are at there lowest in years..So heating costs for the city should be down .....Even electric rates came down a little...So all those saving right their should off set any tax increase that city council wants to throw at us..So why is it so important to raise our rates this year..Why not give us all a break for a year or two...with no increases...Why are they padding the reserves with money...This is a bad way for 5 new council members to start by raising tax rates ,Giving themselves and 80% raise..And also raising water and sewer rates..Not heading in the right direction....Why didn't they tell Malino to come back with a zero tax rate increase and we will work from there...No they just told him to knock a couple of bucks off..They do the same thing every year...Malino comes in with one tax rate increase ,council tells him cut it down a little..Not to eliminate it ..Just take a little off it...Then council will tell us all how its the best they can do under the circumstances...Same story every year...But yet no new ideas on how to contain cost ..Just keep blaming those dam state mandates..........And then in a couple of months we will be told what a great job Malino is doing and that we are giving him a 1.5% raise.....This story repeats it self every year.....

Charlie Mallow
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Mark, I’m not aware of any tax break for serving on public board but, I guess you could submit the expenses if you can itemize. (I never did) Still, that really isn’t a reimbursement. I find it real hard to believe anyone on council cares about the little bit of money they get, like I said before, it doesn’t cover the expenses. As for covering expenses instead, I think the $3500 a year would be a wash. After taxes that’s about how much each of them probably spends doing the job. It does sound like a lot more paperwork than just giving council people what they get now.

As for each of the things you listed. We tried doing them all. There either wasn’t enough support or some state regulation that stopped us.

John Roach
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'Padding' the reserve funds is a good idea. Without reserves, we would have to borrow, and pay interest, on a lot more money for a fire truck. We also have other vehicles that will need replacing in the future and it's better to have some money in the bank than go borrow all of it. Similar to a household. If you can save some money for a new car, you don't have to borrow as much.

We also have to save for the pending arbitration settlement with the Police Union. That will not be cheap, and again, better to have some money in the bank than go borrow it.

And Mark, you know the water deal. We either raise water rates to pay Monroe County, or take it out of the general fund. If you take it out of the general fund, the non profits don't have to pay their share. The water money is not ours.

Mark Potwora
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How come before 1983 council did if for no money...They severed because they wanted to..I have no problem paying them for their expenses ,but then submit them to the city and they will be reimbursed ..what ever that might be....At least when you were on council Charlie,there were ideas and changes made...John good point on the non profits...What is the city doing about that...Seems like more and more property is going on the tax exempt rolls and we are left with less properties to support the city....That is my big point on trash being part of your taxes,in fact in the budget they are getting an increase .Where is the competitive bidding for that service....Why do we pay to pick up trash for GACSA..They allready get our state and federal dollars..Its those little things the the city could work on to make it fair for all and they don't..Why isn't the cost divided equally on all property in the city ,taken out of the budget,and added as a surcharge on your tax bill,that would be one way to make it fair....just an idea.....So it not all about police and fire projection and the costs associated with that............I am sure they will have more studies they will pay for on how to control costs..

Thomas Mooney
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John , Tower to the east is MCWA and the one one the west is ours . Emergency connection valve at the towers to benefit both . John why arn't we making money on the water then like we were told .Padding the general fund doesn't make sense when we have a teatment plant in need of upgrades but then again according to you we don't have to upgrade the facility because MCWA will have to . Please make some sense . One other thing I would like to point out , why if we don't have the ambulances any more but still have the same number of employees . All those EMT's were reclassified as fireman and now they make more money . Isn't it funny how Mercy EMS has twice as many trucks and makes money hand over fist but yet when the city had it lost money . John you can keep sticking up for the crap that the council hand feeds you ,but me for one don't like the tast of crap . I again ask you John ,dig deeper because you realy don't know the truth or you just don't know how to get the right answers .

Thomas Mooney
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Mark , you can add to the fact , why does garbage get picked up down Main st and Ellicott st. Businesses but no other . Most places have dumpsters but our merchants down Main st and Ellicott get a hell of a deal by not having to have a dumpster . Who pays the extra for that . Oh ya ,Many of those shops are owned by people that live outside city limits and yes they bring in the garbage from the house . Must be nice !

John Roach
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Thomas,
It is not ours, it does not belong to use and we did not build it. Call City Hall and ask, that is simple enough. Ask Charlie who tried to alter the renewal of the deal, but did not have the votes at that time. The 2nd tower has the water from the local plant while the other has water from Monroe county, but we do not own it. I wish we still owned the whole works, but we don't. I have a feeling you were not around at the time for both water deal votes.

John Roach
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Attempts have been made to allow private garbage pick up, or even pay per bag. But it never gets enough support from the public. Wish it did.

Thomas Mooney
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Shady deals are what motivates negative attitude in this city . Reaserchers missed that one as to why we are negative . "I just got hired and now I want a raise " should be hung as our motto over the city center . yawn , same old stuff , just new faces .

John Roach
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3 out of 4 new people voted no. Russell is not really new. and the raise does not go into effect for another year. By the way, Russell is one of the people who voted for the water deal renewal when last on Council when Charlie voted against it. Hope to see you next Monday night.

Thomas Mooney
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So when and it will , the water treatment plant fails inspection , who is responsible ? and yet again we were supposed to make money and we are but nobody knows were the money is . MCWA dosent get our water for free , that is for sure . We just don't treat the water and then turn it over to MCWA , they pay us for it . Those payments are what we are supposed to use for up keep of the water facility and the pipes , not the fire trucks . Money from the ambulance fund and taxes were supposed to pay for fire trucks . Where is the money and why do we continue to put money into the general fund for any and all purposes . John , how much does MCWA pay us to filter our water and then turn it over to them ?

Thomas Mooney
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Molino pays no city property taxes , so why would I trust anything he says . He sold his house and moved in with his now wife who inherited her house . Once again , go figure .Show me his name on a property tax bill and then I will listen , till then keep swollowing .

John Roach
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Thomas,
When and if the local water plant fails inspection, who knows what will happen. Again, we do not operate it or pay for it. What is so hard to understand about that?
Just call City Hall and check it out yourself,easy enough to do. Or go back and read past copies of the Daily News at the Library and see the details.

We do own the water pipes and we have an extra charge on the wate bill for that. And we own the sewage treatment plant.

MCWA does not pay us anything. We are out of the water plant business.

Thomas Mooney
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If we don't operate it , then why are our city employees there right now working as they have always been . Calling city hall doesn't do anything but get the wrong info or info they want you to know but not the truth . John, take a ride over there on lehigh ave and see who is running the place . Stick around and you will see city employees working . Ask them off the record as to what goes on and who they work for . I have and you would be supprised as to what they tell you .

Mark Potwora
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How come, to the Batavia School Districts credit they see the writing on the wall ..They see that the population of the school district is shrinking.They are closing a school and selling the Admin building.....This should be a leading indicator to those at City Hall and City Council that they need to do something to cut this size of government and stop all these tax rate increases........Tom good point about Malino...Lets add to that others in city management who do not pay city tax..Sally Kuzon is one..The fire chief is another...I know there is more...Just because some can't make the council meeting they can pick up their phone and call their city councilmen...or councilwoman......Call the at large councilmen also........Call the council President...Let them know how you feel on these issues...The people voted twice for no raise for council,so they took out of the charter and voted in a raise.So much for what the public thinks...In private business you submit and expense report and get paid accordingly..You don't just give your self a raise...

John Roach
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Thomas,
The City employees at the water plant are paid by Genesee County as part of the water deal. Why don't you just get a copy and read it, or read back issues of the Daily News from 2000 or 2008?

The County pays for the operation and maintenance of the water plant. There is no run around, you can read it for yourself. Ask Councilmen Russell or Buckley, who both voted for the extension. Ask Charlie, who voted against it. Ask Councilwomen Christian and/or Briggs, who voted against it both times.
Again, just do the work. Ask former Councilman Bialkowski who while not on council at the time of either voted, worked long and hard against both votes. It's there for you to see if you really want.

Come to Council Monday and ask in public who pays for the water plant operation, I'll be there to sit with you.

And who cares if it is Malino or his wife who's name is on the tax bill? Taxes are being paid.

Thomas Mooney
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John , I beg to differ . Why would the county pay the city to run the water plant and not just make them county employees do it .Do you realy think this is a good plan . You said it yourself , nobody knows who will pay for the upgrades at the treatment plant , and why is this . There is much more to this than you know or will ever know . Does the county reimberse the city for benefits too . Does this even make sence . I won't be at that meeting or any other , I don't care to visit a jail cell . If there are less people in the city then why are the rentals so high , if it were lower population than there should be cheap rentals available . How many apatments are now HUD with landowners living out of the city . Why are there so many rochester and Buffalo trasnplants . This all translates to a place that HARD WORKING PEOPLE are moving away from . But yet same old same old . excuse after excuse of why things are so bad . The water plant is city property and if it is not than some signage needs to be changed anf we shouldn't be running it . So who gets the dollars from MCWA for buying our water ? and where does the money go ,. Once again , it was supposed to make us money . Who ever said that is probaly siting somewhere warm nice laughing all the way to the bank . Maybe our council needs a re-treat , ya know like we have done before on the taxpayer of course .

Mark Potwora
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Tom you are right about the HUD housing...There are more houses being converted into apartments in this city then ever before...

John Roach
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Thomas,
You can "beg to differ" all you want, but it is in the contract. Why you refuse to actually check it yourself is a question only you can answer. I have read it and I have given you a number of sources you can check. It only takes a little effort.

I didn't think it is a good idea 2000, and I was against it again when it was renewed.

As for MCWA, they get and keep the money. Again, just try to read the agreement, it is not a very long document.

I am not surprised you will not attend the meeting.

Howard B. Owens
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Jason Molino responds to Thomas Mooney:

"Howard this statement is incorrect. Please see the link below. My current residence was purchased by me, and not inherited, and yes I do pay taxes. However I would be very interested to know if Mr. Mooney knows of something that says I don’t have to pay taxes?

http://www.oarsystem.com/ny/geneseecounty/subject.asp?swis=180200&sbl=0840060003071000"

Howard B. Owens
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Jason's link isn't working for me, but if you go to the OARs site, his listing is easy to find ... just search for Molino in the appropriate box.

Mark Potwora
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At least we know he reads the Batavian.......

Surprised to see he paid 109,155 dollars for his house in 2009,but is only assessed at 106,000..i thought you are assessed on what your house will sell for....

John Roach
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Who cares? First we have somebody saying the manager does not pay taxes, now it's he is not paying enough? At least he pays his taxes!

Duane Preston
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While your on the OARS, You can see how properties like 337 Bank Street are assessed for $419,000 less than what they purchased it for. This is what's hurting the average home owner. Thomas on #30 you asked why the rentals are so high? Property tax dictates rental rates.

Also one more thing Thomas, in the previous link about the merging of the schools, you commented on the city being a landlord. You should checkout the BATAVIAHOUSING.ORG web sight.

Bea McManis
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Duane wrote:
"Also one more thing Thomas, in the previous link about the merging of the schools, you commented on the city being a landlord. You should checkout the BATAVIAHOUSING.ORG web sight"

Your point, Duane?

Bea McManis
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ooops

John Roach
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Bea,
You could make the argument that since public housing does not pay property taxes, it drives up the tax rate on other properties.

Duane Preston
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Thomas didn't want the city to be anymore of a liability being a landlord by renting out Robert Morris School. My point is, Isn't the city already a Landlord.

Mark Potwora
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Good points Duane..Looking through the OARS site i also noticed 105-107 main st..The old Carrs building ,which is now a car showroom is only assessed at 45,000 dollars ...It is in the heart of Downtown Main Street..And is only worth 45,000 dollars..Houses in the poorest part of the city are assessed for more than that....Whats up with all that...John it is a big deal since many in 2009 have had their assessments raised...Why did his go down...Fair is Fair......Between a property like Duane has brought up,plus non profits ,and property that is paying a PILOT rate instead of a normal property tax rate like others is why many of us have to pay a higher rate then we should.....Duane's point is well taken ,that because of a high tax rate,Rents also have to be high to pay for such rates....

Bea McManis
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Duane, I live at the Towers. Forgive me if I'm a little paranoid and bristle, there are people who post to this site that make an concerted effort to make the residents out to be second class citizens because they are in subsidized housing and no longer directly pay property or school taxes
As far as the Robert Morris property is concerned, I also asked about the responsibility of upkeep and daily maintenance it was a rental. There doesn't appear to be much savings there.
As far as the website you posted.
Many of the activities listed on that site are sponsored by the Residents' Council at no additional cost to the BHA. Not listed, but very active, is our Snack Shop - open five days a week, 9 hours a day. The proceeds from the shop help fund many of activities.
Our rent also includes money for PILOT (I know, Mark's favorite bad word), which goes toward garbage disposal; etc.
We, the retired residents, spent active and busy lives - working, home ownership, paying our fair share of taxes over the years.

Sorry, Mark - we were writing at the same time, you got your's in first. :)

Duane Preston
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My point exactly!! Well said Mark

Mark Potwora
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no problem Bea...Glad to be able to hear all sides of an issue..Your opinion is allways valued to me...With the cities tax rate going higher and higher we need to look at other ways to create revenue .....and Fairness in taxing for all homeowners...

John Roach
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Mark,
Any idea what would the taxable value of all 4 BHA properties would be if privatized and on the tax roles like Washington Towers? Would the property taxes be worth the effort to do it?

Duane Preston
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Bea, I only wanted to point out that Batavia has libilities already being a landlord. I think that is fantastic that you and the residents fund your own activities. Keep up the good work!

Thomas Mooney
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Last seen: 5 years 8 months ago
Joined: May 19 2009 - 9:49pm

Alright , Jason pays taxes and that to me is a good thing ,I was wrong and yes I think it is a good thing for our city that Jason is activly reading these comments. John , I did do some homework and this is what I found out . The City of Batavia does own the water plant but leases it to the County for 1,000,000 a year . So where is the 1,000,000 go every year . Once again we make money on the water plant .

John Roach
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Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am

That lease money goes into the general fund and basically pays the operating and basic maintenance cost of the building. We don't 'make' money on it, but we are not loseing money either on the lease.

Thomas Mooney
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Joined: May 19 2009 - 9:49pm

John , realy 1,000,000 for basic maintenance and operation , seems extreme considering the condition of the place . If the plant was being maintained with the money from the lease , the building , lab , holding vats would be excellant condition and they are not . Yes ,we were supposed to make money, are we not collecting enough on the lease or is there another reason that we don't make money . The general fund has been and will be abused to make up for other short falls in accounting and that is not getting us anywhere.

John Roach
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Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am

Operation includes payroll.
MCWA contracts with Genesee County to buy a certain amount of water at a certain rate.
City residents use some of that water and pay Genesee County thru the City of Batavia when you get your water bill.
The City of Batavia also has to pay the County for the waster it uses in daily operations and fire fighting.
The County then passes that money on to the MCWA.

You may or may not have a point on the amount we get for the lease, but it is what we get and the contract does not expired for about 6 more years.
What the City got out of this deal was the sales tax increase (but of course you knew that, right?) We get about 16% of the County's share of the sales tax rasied in the whole county. That's why the City dropped it's own sales tax.

Tell me where you got you information that we were supposed to make money on the water plant.

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