City, county sales tax 'special legislation' requirement moves forward
The Batavia City Council is on board with a one-year extension of a tentative new sales tax agreement with Genesee County as long as county legislators also act to facilitate the “special legislation” necessary to secure a 40-year deal.
During a Special Conference Meeting tonight at City Hall, council members opted to move a resolution calling for a 12-month extension agreement to its Conference Meeting on Oct. 22, but want assurances that Genesee County lawmakers will be taking up the measure as well.
“The one-year extension is consistent with the 40-year agreement … and the special legislation hopefully will lead to (the passage) of the 40-year agreement,” Interim Manager Matt Worth said. “It would not have been approved by the state Comptroller’s Office (without the special legislation). So, the county will meet concurrently and then it will go to the Comptroller.”
City Attorney George Van Nest explained that the county attorney was advised in mid-September of “feedback he got from the state Comptroller’s Office that there was a little discomfort (with the 40-year term).”
Van Nest said pursuing the special legislation through the state legislature is the “best approach and the most cautious approach.”
In a memo to City Council dated Oct. 2, Worth referred to precedent for such a move, citing previous agreements in Wayne and Ontario counties.
The City and Genesee County have reached a deal giving Batavia 16 percent of the county’s 50 percent share of the 8 percent sales tax through the end of 2018 – with provisions for that amount to grow in future years by a maximum of 2 percent per year. In future years, the City’s share will depend upon sales tax revenue growth, eventually being no less than 14 percent.
City Council President Eugene Jankowski said he was in favor of the special legislation because “it will protect us. It becomes not just an agreement, but one approved by the state legislature.”
County legislators deemed that a change in the current agreement was necessary due to pending large expenditures, primarily a new county jail and several bridge replacements/repairs.
Council Member Robert Bialkowski said he wanted to know how much the county actually needs for these big ticket items.
“What do I tell my constituents?" he asked.
Worth said he wasn’t sure of the numbers, but said the county jail cost is expected to be around $50 million.
The county is expected to act on the extension on Oct. 17, Worth said, noting that the extension will expire on Dec. 31, 2019.
Jankowski said the ruling from the state Comptroller’s Office came as a bit of a surprise.
“The county attorney had been in contact with the state all along and at the last minute, it was like somebody finally read it, and said, ‘Oh, it’s a 40-year agreement,’ ” he said.
During the Business Meeting held before the Conference Meeting, Council:
-- Voted 8-1 to continue extra compensation for Worth ($1,000 per month), and James Ficarella, Ray Tourt and Lisa Neary ($750 per month each) through the pay period ending Jan. 4, 2019, for their additional work during the time the City has been without a city manager and assistant city manager.
The lone “no” vote was cast by Rose Mary Christian, who previously stated that she believes the additional pay should end when the new manager, Martin Moore, assumes his duties on Oct. 15.
-- Voted 9-0 to support the Fire Department’s implementation of an external Emergency Medical Technician class to be offered on an annual basis and to accept a $1,500 state grant to continue a child safety seat initiative.
The EMT class is for citizens interested in becoming EMTs for their own personal benefit as well as those who offer their services to other fire, rescue or Emergency Medical Service agency.
If Mr. Bilalkowski wants to know what the County will spend its money on, he should be asking his Legislator, not the interim City Manager. But that new County Jail the State is forcing us to build will be vert costly.
Cuomo saw fit to ignore the Fed regarding the eyesore signage. The county should ignore his jail mandate. Though I imagine there are local elements communicating the "need", since the local populace hasn't jumped on board.
I witnessed a very similar "need" in the early 90's when elements of the Pavilion School district wanted to expand the size of the school. The number of students had fallen by about 15% in the 20 years since I had graduated, and the square footage of the school had already been increased by about 40 - 50 % in the interim. There was a strong push by the administration with propaganda films showing a very crowded stairwell during class change and how it was a fire hazard. After researching the population drop I looked into the propaganda film. I was informed that one of the stairwells had been blocked off to overcrowd the filmed stairwell. I wrote a letter to the editor of the Batavia Daily relating my findings before the vote. The proposal failed. Eventually the expansion passed. There are ways to "persuade" the people. While the people are toiling with everyday life to pay the ever increasing taxes, elements are conniving to get their way. They know that time is on their side, and that our history of complacency will allow them to win through attrition.
I've written before about the Norwegian justice system, and how it is responsible for the extremely low crime rate of that country. I have spoken with people in power regarding the need to change our system to emulate a more successful model. I believe that our President is having conversations with Kanye West about the subject today or tomorrow. If our local authorities get on the ball we might lead the nation and become a role model. Those authorities must first realize that they have been institutionalized themselves, and that they would do themselves and the people they represent a solid, by thinking outside the "box."