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Batavia City Council

December 10, 2018 - 9:12pm


Stephen Quider, left, is the newest officer on the Batavia City police force. He was introduced to City Council tonight by Chief Shawn Heubusch, who said Quider has completed his 16 weeks of field training. The West Henrietta resident is in the process of relocating to the City.


Now that the rezoning of several parcels owned by City Church’s St. Anthony’s campus on Liberty Street is finally official, leaders of the Teen City project are rolling up their sleeves to expedite the transition of the Batavia Youth Bureau from its current MacArthur Drive location.

“We’re looking at the first quarter of the year (2019) to open Teen City, collaborating with the YMCA,” said Jocelyn Sikorski, Batavia Youth Bureau executive director, at tonight’s City Council meeting at City Hall. “We have put together an aggressive timeline.”

After a few months of discussion and planning board meetings, Council voted unanimously to change the zoning of five tracts on Liberty Street and one on Central Avenue from R-3 Residential to C-3 Central Commercial in order for City Church to offer business activities to the public and, as a result, pave the way for the youth bureau’s relocation.

Teen City is the name for the after-school program that will be operated by the Batavia Youth Bureau and YMCA, with assistance from City Church.

Sikorski, in a memo to City Council dated Dec. 5, wrote that a lease/operating agreement with City Church has been drafted and reviewed by City Attorney George Van Nest.

“This (anticipated approval of the lease by City Council) will enable us to move into the next steps regarding modifications to the facility, including renovations to the cafeteria as well as IT and security needs,” Sikorski wrote.

She added that bids for the work will go out over the next few weeks, and that a memorandum of understanding between the Batavia Youth Bureau and YMCA for shared staffing and oversight of the after-school program is being developed.

Sikorski’s committee has prioritized the necessary documents along with an intermunicipal agreement with the Batavia City School District for the current youth center site and transportation, along with a Teen City logo design contest. If all goes according to plan, a “kickoff event” will take place on Feb. 22.

Responding to a query from Council Member John Canale, Sikorski said the school district intends to take over the existing youth bureau building – occupying it and paying all expenses.

“This would not be a lease,” Sikorski said, adding that the Community Garden there would not be affected.

In a related move, Council voted to accept a $10,000 grant from the New York State Education Department to help fund the after-school program and another $1,000 from the County Youth Bureau for equipment, supplies and materials.

In other action, Council:

-- Passed a local law making Thorpe Street a one-way street for southbound traffic between Watson and Maple streets.

Thorpe becomes the seventh street in the City designated as one-way, joining Hewitt Place, Lewis Place, McKinley Avenue, North Spruce Street, School Street and Wiard Street.

-- Extended for a year -- three pacts with Genesee County relating to water supply, operation and maintenance of the water treatment plant and lease of the water treatment facility. This was done to allow the City and County to forge a long-term contract in tandem with a sales tax agreement.

In a memo dated Dec. 4, DPW Director Matt Worth noted two new changes to the water supply agreement:

  1. Leaving the index allowing for a maximum change in the cost of wholesale water purchased by the City to remain as the Consumer Price Index, which is consistent with the existing contract, and
  2. Making Genesee County a co-applicant or endorsing entity of any funding applications prepared by the City for services related to the removal of lead within the system.

Worth stressed that the City has no issues with lead, but included that provision to deal with any necessary improvements down the road.

-- Voted in a favor of a new three-year lease and sublease (through April 1, 2022) with the New York-Penn League for use of Dwyer Stadium for the league-owned Batavia Muckdogs.

The proposed lease is consistent with the most recent lease – “it has the same language as the current lease and sublease except for the term,” Van Nest said -- and calls for a $25,000 capital investment by the City into the facility annually.

-- Heard a brief report from City Manager Martin Moore regarding a pair of Downtown Revitalization Projects that are “moving along.”

Moore said he met with representatives of Empire State Development Corporation last week and was informed that funding for the Ellicott Place project is “on its way” and for the Healthy Living Campus project is due by the end of the week.

He also said that the Batavia Development Corporation’s “kickoff meeting” for mini-grants is set for next week.

Council then authorized Moore and Council President Eugene Jankowski to sign paperwork to receive an ESDC reimbursement grant in the amount of $25,000 to assist the Genesee Area YMCA in preparing a feasibility study for the Healthy Living Campus.

-- Appointed Bob Gray and Leslie Moma to the Community Garden Committee through Dec. 31, 2022, and Sharon Burkel to the Historic Preservation Commission through Dec. 31, 2021.

During a Conference Meeting following the Business Meeting, Council agreed to take up at its next meeting (Jan. 14) two resolutions dealing with a Community Development Block Grant for 900 linear feet of water main on Brooklyn Avenue in the amount of $333,000.

Worth said the project, along with drainage work at Williams Park and along the Tonawanda Creek bank, calls for an environmental impact review and a resolution stating who the certifying officer would be (in this case, Jankowski).

The project is slated to go to bid in March, Worth said.

November 28, 2018 - 7:36am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, City Church, dwyer stadium.

City Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian says the City needs to get tough with landlords and homeowners when disturbances that put employees in jeopardy arise, but just how to proceed can be complicated.

That was the gist of a discussion among council members, a city attorney and the police chief at Monday night’s Conference Meeting at City Hall.

“I’m tired of policeman getting hurt and firemen being threatened,” Christian said, referring to several incidences in recent months where police have had to be called.

She also called for harsher local ordinances that deal with grass mowing, trash, home maintenance and vehicle storage – even outlining a plan that would start with a warning, escalate to a $500 fine and court appearance, and ultimately putting the matter into a judge’s hands.

“We need to hurt them in their pocket; we just don’t do enough,” she said. “If we start hurting them in their pocket, we’ll get somewhere.”

It isn’t as simple as that, however, said Council President Eugene Jankowski.

“I think we tried this before (holding the landlord responsible),” Jankowski said. “But evicting is a 30- to 60-day process, and then the renter goes ballistic and trashes the place. We have to arrest the resident.”

Attorney David Fitch, filling in for George Van Nest, said he felt the discussion “was conflating some different things” since code violations are handled differently than criminal violations.

“With code enforcement violation, as the city attorney we would prosecute, but can’t hold the landlord responsible,” he said. “The goal … is to get compliance – paint their houses, cut the lawns, take care of the trash.”

Fitch said if residents don’t respond, “judges in City Court have no problem issuing a hefty fine, up to $250 per day.”

Chief Shawn Heubusch mentioned a program where landlords can check into the backgrounds of potential tenants and also get a description of what took place at the property.

“At our last community meeting, we talked about landlord licensing,” he said. “People in dangerous situations won’t call police if they think they will get fined.”

Heubusch said he “understands where you’re coming from,” in response to Christian, “as our guys live it every single day.”

Jankowski noted the many delays in processing violations, but Christian said it goes beyond that.

“If there are drugs (involved), we can take possession of property. If the landlord is aware of possession of drugs or dealing, they can bring the landlord to court,” she said.

“We need something that has an effect on our community. I would hate to go through another summer like we had this year.”

Jankowski said that landlords can evict tenants when a crime is committed in their house, while Heubusch said cooperation from neighbors is a key component in cleaning up illegal activity.

Council referred several draft resolutions to its Business Meeting on Dec. 10, including:

-- Lead agency status in the State Environmental Quality Review determination and subsequent zoning change ordinance for parcels comprising the St. Anthony’s Church campus on Liberty Street and Central Avenue.

The zoning designation, stemming from a request from City Church (owners of the property), will be changed from R-3 Residential to C-3 Commercial to allow for business activities, including a proposal to move the Batavia Youth Bureau there.

“These are the final steps of the zoning change,” said Matt Worth, director of public works, who oversaw the issue while serving as interim city manager.

-- A local law to amend the City’s municipal code to make Thorpe Street a one-way street for southbound traffic only between Watson and Maple streets.

During a brief public hearing last night, Watson Street resident Ken Wolter said he hoped that the change works and asked Council to consider making Watson Street off of Evans Street one-way as well.

-- The extension of one-year – through Dec. 31, 2019 – three agreements with Genesee County concerning water supply, operation and maintenance, and facilities lease while leaders work on a longer-term contract in conjunction with a long-term sales tax agreement.

Worth said the extensions contain “minimal changes,” most notably the county charging the city an additional 60 cents per 1,000 gallons – up from the current 60 cents per 1,000-gallon surcharge – to help fund capital projects to increase the water supply.

Also, as far as the lease of the city’s water plant to the county is concerned, the new agreement would transfer it to the county once the plant is no longer being used.

“By doing this, it would not be a liability to the city in the future,” Worth said.

He also said he plans to talk to county officials about including a lead services clause in the water supply agreement.

-- Acceptance of a New York State Education Department grant for $10,000 and a State Aid Recreation Program grant for $1,000 to assist with the start-up of the Teen City project, a joint venture of the United Way of Genesee County, Genesee County YMCA, City of Batavia and City Church.

-- The transfer of $585,000 in unallocated funds to several restricted funds per recommendation of the City Audit Committee.

“Funding reserves now for future liabilities, equipment, infrastructure and facility improvements has been, and will continue to be, critical in avoiding larger tax burdens in future years,” Lisa Neary, deputy director of Finance, wrote in a memo dated Nov. 21.

The resolution calls for reserve funds to be increased as follows: $150,000 to DPW; $25,000 to Sidewalk; $75,000 to Administrative Equipment; $5,000 to Police Equipment; $40,000 to Fire Equipment; $10,000 to Dwyer Stadium; $50,000 to Facility; $80,000 to Compensated Absence; $50,000 to Workers Compensation; $75,000 to Retirement; and $25,000 to Parking Lot.

-- A new three-year lease (through April 1, 2022) with the New York-Penn League for the use of Dwyer Stadium for the league-owned Batavia Muckdogs.

The proposed lease is consistent with the most recent lease and calls for a $25,000 capital investment by the City into the facility annually, said Worth, who noted that league officials have yet to respond to the City’s draft of the lease.

Worth said the league paid for field and clubhouse improvements last season and continues to pay all utilities. He said that $80,000 is in the current Dwyer Stadium reserve fund.

November 14, 2018 - 10:59am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council.

166 South Main St., Batavia, NY, 5.73 acres, LOT/LAND, $300,000. Development site 5.73 acres in the City of Batavia. Beautiful scenic views of the Tonawanda Creek. Residential, development, place of worship, many options. Existing building can be rehabbed to 8 housing units. Existing foundation (64' x 97') can accommodate a minimum of units and a maximum of 24.

The real estate ad above more than caught the eye of Jim Carney, a 26-year resident of 162 S. Main St., who also owns property at 164 S. Main St. It also spurred him into action.

Carney made his way to Tuesday night’s City Council meeting to make the governing body aware that the ad wasn’t completely accurate and that he – and his neighbors – was prepared to oppose any plan to erect a multiple-unit housing development on that site.

The property in question once housed the City’s sewer treatment plant and later was sold by the city to a private owner.

“The ad reads the building can be rehabbed to eight housing units, with a minimum of units and a maximum of 24, but it is zoned R1A, which means that you can only have single family or duplexes there,” Carney said. “(Anything else) cannot be done without a variance.”

Carney said that there already is a high volume of apartment complexes “within a stone’s throw” of his home, namely Birchwood Village, 172 1/2 S. Main St. (Meadows) and 193 S. Main St. Apartments.

“Our concern is that more high-density housing could change the nature of the neighborhood,” Carney said. “Any attempt to change that by use of a variance will be fought by the neighbors.”

After Carney spoke, Council Member Kathleen Briggs asked if ultimately this issue would come before City Council. City Attorney George Van Nest answered in the affirmative, noting that any rezoning petition would have to be voted upon by the board.

City Council President Eugene Jankowski also responded, stating that a real estate ad doesn’t translate into a binding document and that “it’s not going to happen under our noses.”

“There are plenty of large housing units there already … it’s a bad idea.”

November 13, 2018 - 8:38pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, City Church.

A proposal to rezone several parcels on the City’s Southside moved a bit closer to reality tonight by virtue of a public hearing during City Council’s Business Meeting at the City Hall Council Board Room.

City resident John Roach was the lone speaker during the public hearing and he offered a wholehearted endorsement of the plan to change the zoning from R-3 Residential to C-3 Commercial.

City Church leaders have asked the City to amend the zoning as they hope to develop commercial activities such as a dance school, art school and community education classes at the site, which incorporates six parcels on Liberty Street and Central Avenue.

In addition, church officials are in negotiations with the City to move the Batavia Youth Bureau from its current MacArthur Drive location to the St. Anthony’s campus for an afterschool venture to be called Teen City.

Roach urged council members to approve the proposal.

“Before (the former) St. Anthony’s (Catholic Church) was sold, the school was empty and they tried to let a few businesses in. But they were shut down due to zoning,” Roach said. “Now, City Church (is involved). The neighborhood could use a shot in the arm, and without the zoning, it will sit and sit just like before.”

Council President Eugene Jankowski noted that no one has spoken against the plan.

“So we had the public hearing today and there was only a positive comment – there were no negative comments,” he said. “City Council will weigh that towards the actual resolution to make the amendment to the zoning, and that will take place within probably the next business meeting, depending on other pieces of the puzzle that come together.

“All being said, if everything goes well I would expect that at the next business meeting, we would come to a vote on that zoning change.”

Council's next session is a Conference Meeting on Nov. 26, but there is a possibility that a Special Business Meeting could be called to vote on the rezoning issue.

In other action tonight, Council:

-- Scheduled a public hearing for 7 p.m. Nov. 26 to amend the City Code to make Thorpe Street a one-way street to alleviate traffic congestion and safety concerns. The proposed amendment calls for southbound traffic only on Thorpe between Watson and Maple streets.

In conjunction with the one-way idea, it has been recommended to allow parking on the west side of Thorpe Street between Watson and Maple and to leave the portion of Thorpe Street north of Watson as a two-way street with a stop sign and a parking ban on both sides.

-- Amended the police department budget to reflect the receipt of a pair of grants – the first being a $13,000 award from Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer’s office to offset the cost of body cameras for police officers and the second being an $11,374 award from the state Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee for extra patrols to enforce seat belt usage and address speeding issues, specifically in the downtown corridor.

-- Heard a report from City Manager Martin Moore concerning the status of roof repairs at the City Centre Mall. Moore said that the number of buckets collecting water has been slashed from 65 to only five, and that he intends to “get the contractor to come back until he finds them all.”

City Council authorized funds for a temporary fix of the roof this winter, with plans to fully repair the roof in the spring.

Jankowski mentioned that a doctor tenant in the mall was under the impression -- based on an inaccurate report in the local print newspaper -- that Council was not going to fix the roof and, consequently, has started a petition campaign.

“(Starting a petition) is a waste of time,” Jankowski said, assuring all those present that the City intends to make permanent repairs to the leaky roof.

-- Passed a resolution to serve as the lead agency to conduct an environmental review of a project to construct water and storm drainage improvements on Brooklyn Avenue and within Williams Park.

-- Approved requests to hold Christmas in the City and Parade from 2 to 7 p.m. Dec. 1, with the parade from Jefferson Avenue to Summit Street scheduled for 6 p.m., and for a Women’s March and Rally from Jackson Square to the City Centre concourse at 10 a.m. Jan. 19.

-- Appointed Kathryn Fitzpatrick to the Youth Board for a term extending to Aug. 31.

October 22, 2018 - 10:23pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, genesee county, City Church.

City of Batavia leaders believe they have come up with one way to address the traffic safety concerns on the Southside streets of Watson, Thorpe and Maple: Turn Thorpe Street into a one-way street.

Police Chief Shawn Heubusch, in coordination with Director of Public Works Matt Worth and Maintenance Superintendent Ray Tourt, asked City Council to approve a recommendation to allow motorists to travel southbound only on Thorpe Street between Watson and Maple.

Council, during tonight’s Conference Meeting (a Special Business meeting followed), decided to move the suggestion forward to its next Business Meeting on Nov. 13.

If the board votes in favor of the modification, a public hearing on a change in the municipal code would be scheduled.

Over the past year or so, residents of those streets have petitioned City Council to do something about cars not stopping at the Thorpe/Watson intersection, which already is hampered by limited sight lines. Residents had asked for the placement of a stop sign on Watson Street headed eastbound at the intersection of Thorpe Street.

Heubusch said that a traffic study did not warrant a stop sign or other traffic control device, plus there wasn’t enough space to properly erect a stop sign.

“So in order to alleviate that issue, we suggested creating a one-way street – making Thorpe a one-way street,” he said. “It is a southbound street only now (per the recommendation), coming from Watson to Maple.

“We hope that will alleviate the issue with that sight line and visibility issue, because you will no longer have cars northbound on Thorpe Street looking to turn west onto Watson, or east onto Watson for that matter, because they will no longer be allowed to go that way.”

City officials also are recommending that parking be allowed on the west side of Thorpe Street between Watson and Maple, and leaving the portion of Thorpe Street north of Watson as a two-way street with a stop sign and a parking ban on both sides.

Heubusch said that if these changes don’t work, they will explore other options.

In other action last night, Council:

-- Voted to approve an amended sales tax agreement with Genesee County that extends the current pact for one more year, through Dec. 31, 2019.  As it stands now, the City receives 16 percent of the sales tax revenue, compared to the county’s 50 percent and the towns sharing the remaining 34 percent.

A new 40-year agreement which changes the terms is on hold due to objections by the State Comptroller’s Office, which is calling for “special legislation” by the State Legislature to vote on the contract.

-- Voted to schedule a public hearing at 7 p.m. Nov. 13 on an ordinance to amend the zoning map of the City of Batavia per a request by City Church to change parcels at the former St. Anthony’s School/Church campus from R-3 Resident to C-3 Commercial.

As reported previously, City Church leaders are hoping to offer commercial activities such as a dance school, art school and community education classes at the site and they have been working with the City to house the Batavia Youth Bureau, with the idea of renaming it Teen City.

Council also agreed to taking on lead agency designation in a mandated State Environmental Quality Review of the six parcels on Liberty Street and Central Avenue.

 -- Voted to reject bids from two companies for the replacement of two areas of flat roofs and four entry silos at the City Centre due to the fact that the bids came in 25 to 30 percent over the estimated cost (about $150,000) of the project.

Instead, Council is going with Worth’s recommendation for DPW to perform some remedial work on the roof and silos, and then rebid the work to start in the spring as part of a larger project.

Council members Rose Mary Christian and John Canale questioned whether the DPW’s work – estimated at $4,000 – would eliminate the need for all the buckets in the concourse. Worth said he couldn’t ensure that all leaks will be stopped, but said it “will get us through the winter.”

-- Accepted a STOP-DWI grant for $4,576 for a detail that starts this month, and voted to amend the City’s personnel policy manual to adopt the state’s sexual harassment policy, which calls for all employees to be trained by Oct. 9, 2019.

October 18, 2018 - 7:57am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, Martin Moore, notify.


Martin D. Moore, Ph.D., the new manager of the City of Batavia, was the center of attention on Wednesday afternoon, but he was quick to mention that it’s the residents who come first.

Moore, speaking at a meet-and-greet session at City Hall Council Chambers, said he advocates an open-door policy that gives citizens an avenue to let their voices be heard.

“I’m here for the people themselves … that’s who I work for,” said Moore, who was joined at the event by his wife, Joanne, and 17-year-old son, Martin Jr. “If they need something, have an issue or a suggestion, I am willing to listen. There are no bad ideas.”

The former city manager of Eunice, N.M. (he served in that capacity for about seven years), Moore said he has a “relaxed style but is very driven toward results at the same time.”

As he prepares for his first City Council meeting next Monday, Moore said his immediate priorities include talking to the management team about how to communicate effectively, building a working relationship with the business community, and meeting with Batavia Development Corporation officials about the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

“I really want to see the shovels starting to hit the ground,” he said, referring to the Ellicott Station project.

His hiring as the one to replace Jason Molino, who resigned the position about nine months ago, is homecoming, of sorts, for his family. His wife has two sisters in Le Roy, a brother in Warsaw and another sister in Castile. She also has a brother who resides in Tonawanda.

Moore said he was in the running for similar positions in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, but believes that the Batavia job was meant to be.

“When I came here (during the interview process), everything seemed to click,” he said. “City Council was great; I really enjoyed talking to them and when I went around town, the people were very friendly.

“And if any hurdle came up, it was worked out. Everything just lined up.”

City Council agreed to an initial contract of $110,000 plus benefits for Moore.

His previous executive management experience includes a four-year stint as a consultant, census 2010 crew leader and general manager in Timberon, N.M.; county manager for Otero County, N.M.; executive director of Eastern Arizona Counties, and director of development and community services for Apache County, Ariz.

An Eagle Scout, he was a member of several professional associations and president of the Eunice Rotary Club.

His wife said she was excited when she heard about the Batavia position being open and got “really excited” as her husband made the final cut.

“I haven’t lived in New York since I was 16,” she said, noting that she moved to Hawaii in the mid-1970s and then to the southwestern part of the United States after marrying Moore in 1985.

“He was an Arizona boy, so we settled in New Mexico,” she said.

Joanne, who served as the Chamber of Commerce director in Eunice from 2011-2018, said her husband will be active in the community – appearing at festivals and other events. (They have found a home on Lincoln Avenue, just a short walk from Centennial Park).

“(Martin) likes to be somewhere where he can make a difference,” she said. “He wants to do things to help the community and wants to know what the people think. Sometimes you don’t know unless somebody lets you know.”

Martin Jr. is one of seven children – the others live in New Mexico, Utah, Idaho and Michigan – and is in his senior year at Batavia High School.

He said he's interested in cosmology, the science of the origin and development of universe, and hopes to go to college in Hawaii and earn an internship at the Mauna Kea Observatories.

At least one Batavia resident, James Owen of Redfield Parkway, said he came away with a positive first impression of Moore and his family.

“I think he’s going to be great for Batavia,” Owen said. “He came across as very willing to help the citizens of Batavia. We’re hoping for the best.”

October 10, 2018 - 2:20pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, City Church.

Batavia City Council President Eugene Jankowski said he is confident that the Batavia Planning & Development Committee will come up with the best way to rezone parcels of the former St. Anthony’s Church/School campus on Liberty Street and Central Avenue in order to create a much-needed “community benefit” on the City’s south side.

Jankowski, speaking after Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, took the planning committee’s recent inability to pass a zoning change from its current R-3 Residential to the requested C-3 Commercial in stride, noting that the planners generally are in favor of it.

 “I think that the planning board, from my observation, somewhat recommended it, and I think it’s a great idea for the community to rezone it because that’s exactly what it’s been used for anyway,” Jankowski said. “So I think that rezoning it for its proper use so that we can relocate the youth center there and to put more programs over there is a great idea.”

At a PDC meeting on Sept. 18, the vote was two in favor, one opposed and one abstention, but three votes were needed for passage (one board member was absent).

PDC Chairperson Duane Preston said one committee member was adverse to “spot zoning” so the board is looking at its options, including the recommendation of an alternate zoning district or new district classification. He said the complete packet of information will be provided to council members prior to the next City Council Conference Meeting on Oct. 22.]

Jankowski said he wasn’t so sure that it was a case of “spot zoning.”

“If you look at it, it’s not really a spot … it’s not an island in the middle of a residential area,” he said. “It basically redraws the lines to create like a cutout for an area that’s pretty much a big parking lot, a school building, and a community center. It’s pretty much been treated like a commercial-type property all these years anyway, but it was exempt because it was a church, I believe. I could be wrong on that.”

He added that the parcels in question have become “more of a community center” and “it just makes sense to make it zone properly so they can now offer more services.”

“I think it’s the best thing that can happen there. Do something with it, get it fixed up and make it a community ‘benefit’ instead of a community ‘nothing’ because it’s improperly zoned. In the future, if the planning board recommends a special zone. By all means, if it fits, then why wouldn’t we do it?”

The property was purchased by City Church in 2016, and is hoped to become a destination for commercial ventures such as a dance school, art school and community education classes, as well as the future home of the Batavia Youth Bureau (Teen City).

The Rev. Martin Macdonald, pastor, was at the City Council meeting and said he thinks City Council is on board with the plan and he is “certainly appreciative of that.”

“I hate to go ahead until this is accomplished because I don’t want to talk about something that can’t be a reality until it is approved,” he said, “but we were just over there tonight, and there are 150 kids there right now.

“It’s something that was empty for nine years and is now full of life, and we just want to expand that. We’re just going to complement what’s already happening, and come alongside the City in any way we can, and do what we’re called to do – help people of all ages.”

October 9, 2018 - 9:40pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, genesee county legislature.

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.

October 8, 2018 - 10:41am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, City Church.

A revision to the time period of a new sales tax agreement between the City of Batavia and Genesee County is scheduled to be discussed by the Batavia City Council at a Special Conference Meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the City Hall Council Board Room.

In an Oct. 2 memo to City Council, Interim City Manager Matt Worth wrote that the state Comptroller’s office likely would not approve the agreement with its current 40-year term without “special legislation” from the state legislature.

“Genesee County, with support from the City, will be requesting through our state representatives, that this special legislation be introduced for approval during the next available session,” Worth wrote, adding that there is precedent for such a move as Wayne and Ontario counties previously secured similar agreements.

 As a result, Genesee County has offered a 12-month extension agreement – through Dec. 31, 2019 – to provide time for the “special legislation” to go through the legislative process and pave the way for the signing of a 40-year pact, Worth wrote.

In September, Worth reported that the City and Genesee County 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.

Per the memo:

“If future sales tax growth exceeds 2 percent annually, the County will retain the amount above 2 percent, resulting in the City’s overall share changing even though the City received additional funds. Assuming that there will be growth above 2 percent during some years, eventually the City’s share of sales tax will become 14 percent of the total – which then removes the 2 percent maximum growth cap. The City will remain at 14 percent thereafter for the remainder of the contract.”

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.

Also on the Conference Meeting agenda is a recommendation from the City Planning & Development Committee concerning a request by City Church to rezone several parcels on Liberty Street and Central Avenue from R-3 Residential to C-3 Central Commercial.

According to a letter dated Sept. 19 from Duane President, PDC chairperson, a vote to rezone five Liberty Street parcels and one Central Avenue parcel resulted in two in favor, one opposed and one abstention. Three votes were needed for it to pass, however, and the issue remains on the table.

Preston, speaking today by telephone, said his committee now has decided to approach the matter with a focus on creating an alternate zoning district or establishing a new district classification.

“We don’t want to do spot zoning in the city, but we want to work with City Church to come up with the right zoning,” Preston said. “We need to protect residents on the street in case the property is sold in the future and we don’t want to hurt what City Church is doing for the city.”

Preston said the PDC has called upon the city attorney to make changes that would satisfy both residents and the church.

City Church purchased the former St. Anthony’s Church campus, which included a sanctuary, school and residence, in 2016.

The Rev. Martin Macdonald, pastor, has indicated that the church wishes to offer activities such as a dance school, art school and community education classes that, according to city planners, could be considered a business activity and nonconforming use in an R-3 district.

More recently, it was reported that City Church is negotiating with the City to relocate the Batavia Youth Bureau from its current location on MacArthur Drive to the Liberty Street property. The proposal is supported by the United Way of Genesee County and other agencies, and is contingent upon the zoning change.

October 4, 2018 - 4:23pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, Kathleen Briggs.

briggs_2.jpgA pending affiliation switch from Democrat to Republican is a matter of “returning to my roots,” Batavia City Council Member Kathleen Briggs said today, using a phrase that was echoed by the City’s Democratic and Republican chairpersons.

Briggs, Council’s Fifth Ward representative, has served on the board since 2000.

When asked for the reasoning behind the move, Briggs, who has been a registered Democrat for the past 17 years, she said it was a matter of her “philosophy” reflecting a Republican-Conservative tone and had nothing to with any future endorsement.

City Democratic Party chair Erica O’Donnell supported that claim, stating that “up to this point, we haven’t discussed endorsements.”

O’Donnell said she is “sad to see Kathy go.”

“She has been a great councilwoman. She sent me an email over the summer stating that she previously was a Republican … was a registered Republican out of college … and is returning to her roots.”

When asked about future endorsements, O’Donnell said that “anyone who wants to run should be given a chance to run,” she said, mentioning that at least two people – including someone in the Fifth Ward – have indicated their willingness to run for City Council.

David Saleh, chair of the City Republican Party, agreed.

“Kathy is coming back home to her roots, and we’re very happy to see her come back,” Saleh said. “Her viewpoints are much more consistent with those of the Republican Party.”

According to a Genesee County elections’ office employee, any party change would take effect a week after this year’s November election. Briggs is not up for reelection until November 2019.

Currently, four of the six Ward council members are Republicans – Paul Viele (First Ward), Patti Pacino (Second Ward), John Canale (Third Ward) and Al McGinnis (Fourth Ward).

Briggs, for the time being, and Rose Mary Christian (Sixth Ward) are Democrats.

Saleh said he thinks that all of the Republican ward council members will run again.

“It’s a bit early,” he said. “I haven’t heard anything to the contrary.”

September 26, 2018 - 10:59am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council.

Keeping tabs on trash collection dates has become bit of a messy situation in the City of Batavia.

In an effort to make sure residents are in compliance with the City Code that governs refuse pick-up, Interim City Manager Matt Worth has been doing some research into other communities’ policies and has offered some recommendations moving forward.

Worth addressed the issue at Monday night’s City Council meeting, supported by a memo to City Council dated Sept. 19.

According to Worth, the City Code provides flexibility for residents in regard to designated pick-up days, the number of bags and the time period for placement at the curb. The City Code allows for trash to be placed at the curb after 3 p.m. the day before scheduled collection and for containers to be removed with 24 hours after collection.

He said that on streets where refuse pick-up occurs several days of the week, it has become difficult for city staff to enforce the time restrictions. Furthermore, he said that enforcement officers have discovered that, in many cases, new tenants have moved into apartments and didn’t know their trash pick-up day or that the landlord has changed refuse collection vendors.

Worth reported that four primary refuse collection vendors operate in the City, picking up trash primarily on Monday through Friday. Currently, all City residents and businesses contract directly with independent vendors.

City Council Member Robert Bialkowski said his goal was to develop a four-day pick-up schedule (Tuesday through Friday) with regulations governing the type of vehicle that can be used.

“Right now, you can put garbage out every day and say a friend is picking it up the next day – and it would be completely legal,” Bialkowski said.

Worth reported that he looked at trash collection policies of neighboring communities, specifically the towns of Greece and Henrietta and the Village of Brockport. All three have licensing requirements (including fees, proof of insurance and vehicle compliance standards) on refuse collection vendors and have restricted pick-up days.

He added that he plans to continue the dialog with the vendors to find a viable solution before looking at the imposition of licensing.

“Imposing regulations upon a vendor with existing collection routes without hearing their concerns and recommendations would be problematic,” he said, noting that free-market practices minus government interference “helps to keep the rates and service levels competitive and should be a consideration …”

Following the discussion, City Council directed Worth to move forward with his communication with the vendors and provide updates.

September 13, 2018 - 6:19pm

If Genesee County cuts out or reduces the amount of sales tax revenue it distributes to its towns and villages, it likely will result in increased property taxes to those living in those communities.

That’s the view of Darien Town Supervisor David Hagelberger as he keeps a watchful eye on the situation while representing the Genesee Association of Municipalities on a committee working with Genesee County and City of Batavia leaders.

“Towns and villages are saying that if the county keeps all of the sales tax money, they would have no alternative but to raise local taxes to compensate,” Hagelberger said today. “If the county keeps all of it, you will see an increase in property taxes, slashing of services, depletion of fund balances or a combination thereof.”

Hagelberger said he is concerned over a couple of key issues:

-- That a new sales tax agreement between Genesee County and the City of Batavia does not include towns and villages – unlike the previous agreement that expires at the end of 2018;

-- That the County Legislature has indicated that it will forge separate agreements with the towns and villages based on a fixed dollar amount – and not a percentage that previously applied.

On Monday night, the Batavia City Council moved to vote on its agreement with the county at its next meeting on Sept. 24.

The new 40-year agreement calls for the city to receive its current 16 percent of the county’s share (Genesee County gets to keep half of the 8 percent sales tax, with the rest going to the state) through this year with provisions for that amount to grow in future years by a maximum of 2 percent per year.

If future sales tax growth exceeds 2 percent annually, the county will retain the amount above 2 percent, resulting in the city’s overall percentage share changing even though the city received additional funds. In any event, the City’s share will be no less than 14 percent for the remainder of the 40-year contract.

Meanwhile, towns and villages, which currently split 34 percent of the county’s share based on full taxable value of real property, are left out in the cold going forward, said Hagelberger, who reported that legislators on Wednesday night tabled voting on the agreement with the City of Batavia based on new information from the State Comptroller’s office.

“We have learned that the county has decided not to include us in the sales tax agreement, but will be replacing that with ‘Payment Distribution Agreements’ with the individual towns and villages,” he said. “Their proposal caps the sales tax distribution at the 2018 number – a fixed dollar amount and not a fixed percentage as in the past.”

What this means, according to Hagelberger, is that towns and villages would get the same dollar amount as they received in 2018 for the next 40 years. In the Town of Darien's case, for example, he projects sales tax revenue to exceed $1 million for this year.

“And we all know what happens with inflation and fixed incomes,” he said. “This is not good for towns and villages.”

County Manager Jay Gsell confirmed that the county is offering a fixed amount to towns and villages -- instead of a percentage – via what he termed a “Revenue Distribution Agreement.”

“The county is looking at building a new jail and spending $120 million on bridges and roads,” Gsell said. “Genesee is one of three counties in the state, by virtue of a 1938 statute, totally responsible for the maintenance, upkeep and replacements of bridges and culverts – anything going over a body of water that a vehicle can drive over.”

Gsell acknowledged that towns and villages may have to look at other revenue streams.

“Darien and Pembroke, for example, have zero town tax rates,” he said. “They have been budgeting a lion’s share through sales tax revenue.”

He also said the legislature is prepared to act on its agreement with the City of Batavia at its Sept. 26 meeting, noting that a procedural point brought up by the State Comptroller’s office forced the board to table it last night.

Hagelberger said that town supervisors are under a time crunch to submit their preliminary budgets later this month – fiscal plans that include property tax projections.

“We may not know in enough time to properly work up a budget. We have no guarantee if revenue from sales tax will go into the budget. It creates a lot of uncertainty,” he said, adding that any sales tax contract has to be approved by the State Comptroller’s office and that could impact the accuracy of final budgets which need to be completed by Nov. 28.

Hagelberger said he hopes the county will “clarify its position” soon and expects the issue to be a major part of the next GAM meeting on Sept. 20 at Genesee County Building 2 on West Main Street Road.

September 10, 2018 - 9:12pm

Acting on Interim City Manager Matt Worth’s analogy that the City will benefit from “a thinner piece of a larger pie,” the Batavia City Council on Monday night agreed to set a special business meeting to vote on a new sales tax agreement with Genesee County.

A revised sales tax arrangement with the county is necessary since the current 10-year pact – which gives the City 16 percent of the county’s 50 percent share of the 8 percent sales tax -- expires at the end of this year.

County legislators, looking at future big ticket items such as bridge replacements and a new county jail, balked at extending the existing agreement, setting the stage for negotiations between the two entities.

The proposed deal calls for the City to receive its current 16 percent of the county’s share through this year, with provisions for that amount to grow in future years by a maximum of 2 percent per year.

“This allows the City to increase in growth by up to 2 percent a year until the City’s portion of the pie becomes 14 percent,” Worth said. “So we go from 16 percent to 14 percent as that pie gets larger and larger.

At that point, once that floor of 14 percent hits, all the restrictions go off and there’s no more restriction of 2 percent growth. So if the sales tax goes up by 5 percent, and we’re at 14 percent, the City gets a 5-percent increase as well.”

In any event, the City’s share will be no less than 14 percent for the remainder of the 40-year contract, Worth said.

“The 14-percent floor is an additional safety net for the City to share in good years above 2 percent, once that threshold is reached,” he said, noting that historically sales tax goes up by 2.5 percent annually.

The County Legislature is expected to vote on the matter on Wednesday of this week, while City Council scheduled a business meeting to address the agreement in conjunction with its conference meeting on Sept. 24. From there, it goes to the state comptroller’s office for approval. If approved, it would go into effect on Jan. 1.

The new agreement, unlike the current one, does not include wording about allocations to Genesee County towns and villages because, according to Worth, the towns have no taxing authority and are not a “sign-on” to the contract.

“It is my understanding that the comptroller was not comfortable with the towns being referenced in the agreement, and that the county will have separate agreements with the towns and villages,” he said.

Responding to questions from Council Member Adam Tabelski and Interim City Manager Worth, Council President Eugene Jankowski said the new agreement should be a “stabilizing” factor in annual budget preparation.

“We’ve been in a holding pattern for the last couple years, not knowing if the agreement would go through,” Jankowski said. “We’re in a better position now.”

In other action, Council:

-- Voted to send a resolution calling for the rezoning of the St. Anthony’s Church area on Liberty Street from residential to commercial to the City Planning & Development Committee.

City Church, which purchased the former Catholic church in 2016, filed a petition to reclassify the campus to allow for some activities (dance school, art school, community education classes, etc.) that could be considered a business activity and a non-conforming use in an R-3 district.

Should the planning board approve, a public hearing will be scheduled.

-- Approved the placement of 10 bicycle racks and six trash cans in downtown locations per a request from the Batavia Business Improvement District.

-- Voted in favor of two resolutions pertaining to the Ellicott Station project coordinated by Savarino Companies of Buffalo.

One grants a stormwater easement due to the fact that a major city storm sewer lies within the boundary of the project; and the other distributes a National Grid Urban Center/Commercial District Revitalization Grant in the amount of $250,000 to enhance the Ellicott Trail Project, which will run along the southern boundary of the Ellicott Station site.

-- Voted to submit an application for Transportation Improvement Program funds for the rehabilitation of four city streets – Harvester Avenue, Jackson Street, Bank Street and Richmond Avenue – that qualify under federal guidelines.

August 15, 2018 - 10:24am

The Batavia City Council on Monday night voted to move several resolutions forward, including measures to rezone the St. Anthony’s Church area on Liberty Street from residential to commercial and to install bicycle racks and trash receptacles in several locations within the Downtown Business Improvement District.

A memo from Interim City Manager Matt Worth suggests that seven parcels on Liberty Street and Central Avenue surrounding the St. Anthony’s Church campus – which was purchased by City Church in 2016 – should be reclassified from R-3 to C-3 to allow for some “ancillary activities (dance school, art school, community education classes, etc.) that could be considered a business activity and a non-conforming use in an R-3 district.”

City Church, on July 19, filed a petition to rezone this campus of parcels that would annex the property into the adjacent C-3 district, thus bring the property into conformance with zoning regulations, Worth wrote.

Council’s action moves the resolution into the hands of the Genesee County Planning Board for a recommendation and then to the City Planning and Development Committee for review and to schedule a public hearing in accordance with zoning laws.

In late July, the BID sent a request to the City to install 10 bicycle racks and six trash cans at downtown locations.

A memo from Ray Tourt, superintendent of maintenance, listed the sites as follows:

Bicycle racks – Tim Hortons, Save-A-Lot, Court Street (near the former Coffee Culture); outside JCPenney/Batavia Showtime; near the Christmas Tree between the Bank of America and Tompkins Insurance; in front of Game On on Main Street; in front of Southside Deli on Ellicott Street; in front of Pok-A-Dot on Ellicott Street; in front of Bourbon & Burger Co. on Jackson Street; and in front of Glass Roots on Center Street.

The BID has four more bicycle racks that can be used as replacements when needed.

Trash receptacles – Two on East Main Street and four on Ellicott Street from Court Street to Goade Park.

Tourt said the bicycle racks are of a hoop design marked with a feet motif to go with the BID’s “Feet on the Street” promotion. The trash cans are similar to ones installed by the city in 2004.

Council also agreed to consider a pair of resolutions dealing with the Ellicott Station project coordinated by Savarino Companies of Buffalo.

One is the granting of a stormwater easement due to the fact that a major city storm sewer lies within the boundary of the project.

Worth wrote that this is a requirement of the site approval issued by the City Planning and Development Committee, and would serve as an “important legal document giving the City access for maintenance of this storm sewer in the future.”

The other focuses on the distribution of a National Grid Urban Center/Commercial District Revitalization Grant in the amount of $250,000 that has been awarded to the City to enhance the Ellicott Trail Project, which will run along the southern boundary of the Ellicott Station site.

Based on preliminary construction estimates, Savarino Companies has identified $183,477 worth of improvements (landscaping, lighting, seating, etc.) that would be reimbursed by the grant. An agreement with the City would allow Savarino to access up to the full amount of the funds provided by National Grid.

Council is expected to vote on the BID and Savarino resolutions at its Business Meeting on Sept. 10.

August 14, 2018 - 8:52am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, Batavia Softball League.

Mike Jamil wants a lighted field for his softball league.

Kenneth Wolter and Aaron Alwardt want a stop sign on Watson Street.

Batavia City Council heard from these three people on Monday night prior its Conference and Business Meetings at City Centre Council Chambers.

“I need lights,” said Jamil, director of the Batavia Softball League, that he says will field 17 teams for his fall league that starts next week and runs until November. “We can only get four games in at Kibbe (Park). I have facilities looking right at me; there’s a public park over there (Williams Park on Pearl Street).”

Jamil said he asked city officials about the possibility of using the lighted baseball field at Williams Park for his softball league, but was turned away.

“No discussion. It’s a baseball field, for baseball” was the response, Jamil said.

He said that his group would take responsibility for the condition of the field, and noted the only modifications would be that the pitcher would toss the ball 10 feet in front of the baseball pitcher’s mound, and that the bases would be 65-70 feet instead of the 90-feet distance for baseball.

Jamil has at least two council members in his corner at this point.

“I don’t understand why the league can’t use Williams Park when no one else is using that field,” John Canale said.

“If no one is using it, why can’t they use it?” Paul Viele asked.

Council, after being advised by Attorney George Van Nest that the different layout could create “potential ramifications,” said it would look into Jamil’s request in a timely fashion.

Jamil said he ran three leagues in the spring/summer with a total of 27 teams, using Kibbe Park and the unlit softball diamond at Williams Park.

Wolter and Alwardt spoke of issues stemming from the amount of traffic and rates of speed in the vicinity of Watson and Thorpe streets and called for the placement of a stop sign on the Watson Street side.

“Traffic goes by way too fast in my eyes,” Wolter said, noting that there are many children in the neighborhood and they run out in the street for a ball at times. “Why is it a big issue for a stop sign? Could someone tell me why we don’t need a stop sign?”

Both Watson Street residents also mentioned the need for increased police patrol, citing recent disturbances and drug dealing.

Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said that a traffic study was done, but “did not call for a stop sign at that time” and Maintenance Superintendent Ray Tourt added that a stop sign can’t be used for speed control.

City Council President Eugene Jankowski said the solution could be “something else as traffic could be confusing at that intersection.”

“We need to address something over there,” he said.

Council Member Kathleen Briggs said that she and city officials have been contacting landlords, and both Jankowski and Briggs suggested calling Child Protective Services in cases of children not being supervised.

Alwardt agreed.

“The problem is the parents; there is no supervision,” he said.

August 13, 2018 - 9:46pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, The Novak Consulting Group.

Discussion about the selection of Martin Moore as the new manager of the City of Batavia turned a bit nasty tonight when City Council Member Rose Mary Christian made disparaging remarks about the in-house committee in charge of the vetting process and the consulting firm that was hired to steer the governing body in the right direction.

After Council President Eugene Jankowski and councilpersons-at-Large Adam Tabelski and Robert Bialkowski spoke about the process -- outlining their extensive interviewing, background checks and objectivity, Christian jumped in, first criticizing the Novak Consulting Group and then her three colleagues.

“I thought the Novak Consulting Group did a lousy, lousy job,” she said. “I had asked how many resumes came in and I was told 20 to 25. And from that five were chosen, one was sick, the other had personal problems, and the third person picked another municipality.  All we had was two people to interview.”

Christian also said that there were travel and training expenses as a result of the contract with Novak that she wasn’t aware of and added that she had hoped a current city employee (“an assistant”) would have applied for the job because “the salary ($110,000) was a big challenge for me.”

“I told you guys that I wasn’t going to vote for it. It won’t be unanimous; you’ll have eight yesses and my no.”

All three members of the steering committee responded to Christian’s comments.

“Everyone is entitled to a vote, but to insinuate that Novak was not truthful to us … is very misleading. Novak did a good job,” Tabelski said.

“We received three dozen, not 20, applications and eight to 10 candidates made it to the initial vetting. We then whittled the list down. It’s not the quantity of applicants, but the quality, and we have that.”

Bialkowski agreed, stating that Novak did a “stellar job.”

“They gave us the 10 best and we went from there,” he said.

Jankowski addressed the contract with Novak, noting that “it was all there in the open and you should read the whole packet before you vote on it.”

He then called out Christian (but not by name) for leaving an interview session early.

“I would think you would stay for the whole meeting and not leave for your other job," Jankowski said. "You wouldn’t say 'I don’t have time for this; I have to go to work.' This is one of the most important things that we do.”

Christian took the floor again, saying that she was told there were 20 to 25 applicants and clarifying to say she meant just travel expenses, not training.

It was then she called Jankowski, Tabelski and Bialkowski “the Three Stooges and Frick, Frack and Frank,” or something close to that.

Council Member Al McGinnis defended the trio – “You three did an outstanding job” – and Bialkowski responded, “You don’t resort to name-calling. That’s about as childish as you can get.”

After that, Council voted 9-0 to move the measure to a vote. The decision in favor of Moore was 8-1, with Christian casting the lone “no” vote.

Following the meeting, Jankowski explained why Moore, city manager of Eunice, N.M., for the past seven years, was the last man standing.

“We looked at many applicants and Dr. Moore rose to the top based on his educational level, his experience level, his personality and his experience in his present job,” he said. “He did really well in the interview. Most of Council really found him very favorable, and he just really rose to the top very quickly.”

Jankowski said although Moore is coming from a smaller community, he does have a “lot of education and a lot of background, and he has experience in other communities in his earlier career.

“He went through some really tough times in Eunice, N.M., where they had a serious income (problem) based on the oil industry. Some things dropped off from underneath them, their budget was cut dramatically. He was able to work through that, which I thought, with some very innovative ideas.

“It minimized any loss of jobs, and they were able to keep services continuing even though they took a big hit on their community income. That was very impressive. I liked that thought process and how he was able to handle that.”

Jankowski said that experience gave Moore “a good education” and made him a good fit for Batavia.

“We (Batavia) kind of went through something similar ourselves … and he knew all about that. He had done some research on us as well. I think he found other projects that are going on presently as a very big challenge, and he likes that challenge. And I think he’s going to do very well here.”

As far as Christian’s remarks are concerned, Jankowski said he found it “kind of odd, the combative nature of that whole exchange, and I agree with Councilman Bialkowski when he said that we really shouldn’t (resort to) name-calling.”

In a related matter, Jankowski suggested that the City continue to provide a stipend through the end of the year to the handful of city employees who have been doing extra work since Molino’s departure, including Interim City Manager Matt Worth.

Moore begins his tenure as the City’s manager on Oct. 15.

August 10, 2018 - 1:33pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, Batavia City Council.

The Batavia City Council is prepared to extend a three-year contract to the new City Manager, with a starting salary of $110,000 and increasing by $2,000 annually afterward, at its Business Meeting on Monday.

According to an employment agreement posted on the City of Batavia website, the new manager's term of employment will commence on Oct. 15 and continue until Oct. 14, 2021, or until sooner terminated by the employer or employee subject to specified terms of the contract. The person's name was not included in the posted document.

Other perks include:

-- Retirement benefits through the NYS and Local Retirement System in step with other non-union City employees;
-- Medical insurance paid by the City for the new manager, "his spouse and his dependent children in accordance with the rules and requirements applicable to all other non-union employees of the City of Batavia.";
-- Three weeks vacation, plus accrued sick time, personal time or bereavement leave;
-- Reimbursement for city-related business expenses:
-- Relocation reimbursement of up to $10,000, verified by receipts;
-- Life insurance in step with other non-union City employees.

The contract also addresses suspension and termination, outside activities and performance evaluations.

The new hire will replace former manager Jason Molino, who left in January for a similar position for Tompkins County. Public Works Director Matt Worth has been handling the city manager responsibilities on an interim basis since Molino’s departure.

City Council President Eugene Jankowski said today that he had hoped the person's name would have been included in the document, but he was advised otherwise, citing a confidentiality agreement.

"I wanted to have that in there and I thought it would be in there, but I was told you can't release the name until the day of the meeting -- because of confidentiality -- until the person is ratified," Jankowski said. "When you walk in the door on Monday at 7 p.m., the agenda given to the public will have the name on it."

Jankowski said the new manager will not be able to attend due to a family wedding, but that a meet-and-greet is being set up for either Tuesday or Wednesday by video conferencing.

April 9, 2018 - 11:04pm

A New York State comptroller’s audit of the City of Batavia’s relationship with the Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District mandates City Council to assume greater control of the agency’s financial matters.

That was the word from both Council President Eugene Jankowski and Interim Manager Matt Worth at tonight’s City Council business meeting at City Centre Council Chambers.

“Basically, the state has supported what we said in the past (that Council needed more oversight of the BID) and lays down some ground rules going forward,” Jankowski said. “This has been going on for a couple years; we should have caught it sooner.”

See NYS Local Government and School Accountability audit summary findings posted above this story.

Worth said the audit addresses several procedural issues, particularly in the areas of budget oversight and retention of the BID’s funds.

“It deals with who should take possession of the funds and requires that a more formal contract between the City and the BID needs to be created,” Worth said.

The City and the BID were at odds for some time into the second half of 2016, stemming from the City’s contention that the agency’s 2016-17 assessment budget exceeded the General Municipal Law limits for district assessment charges used for operations.

Jason Molino, city manager at the time, also urged the BID to follow Open Meetings and Freedom of Information laws, and to post its bylaws and meeting notices and minutes on its website.

The dispute simmered in a public forum, eventually prompting Laurie Oltramari to resign her position as BID director (although she said the budget flap did not enter into her decision).

Since then, the BID Board of Directors has changed as has the director, with Beth Kemp taking over the lead role in November 2016. Additionally, the City -- in a move supported by the audit -- has more than $200,000 in a special account (BID taxes that were levied inappropriately) that will not be used until the agency plans a capital improvement project.

A call to Kemp this evening had yet to be returned when this story was posted.

In other action, Council:

-- Approved a contract with R.A. Haitz Co. Inc., of Batavia, for $49,838 to replace two roofs at Dwyer Stadium, with the intent of having the work done prior to the opening of the Batavia Muckdogs’ season in mid-June.

“I think it’s great that we finally found someone from Batavia that can do some work in Batavia,” Council Member Rose Mary Christian said.

The cost comes in at $1,838 over the projected budgeted amount, but Worth said he thinks the City could save money on some other projects at the baseball park “so it comes out in the wash, so to speak.”

The Haitz bid was not the lowest of the three received, however. A $28,800 bid from Dan & D.J.’s Reasonable Contracting, of Elba, was not considered because that firm miscalculated insurance costs related to the project, Worth said.

-- OK'd a liquor license request by the Muckdogs to offer beer and cider during the New York-Penn League games.

-- Voted to contract with Labella Associates in the amount of $12,000 for administrative services in connection with a Communities Development Block Grant to replace 900 linear feet of water mains on a portion of Brooklyn Avenue.

-- Passed a resolution designating four eligible census tracts – in Ward 2, 3, 5 and 6 – as federal qualified opportunity zones.

This gives developers federal tax incentives to reinvest capital gains in areas designated as “disadvantaged” by virtue of having 20 percent or higher poverty and a median family income 80 percent less than the area’s median income.

The resolution states that “coupling opportunity funds with the locally enacted Pathway to Prosperity tax increment financing program may assure cleanup of brownfield sites, gain new investor commitments to Batavia, and will ensure that our region can be an attractive economic driver creating jobs, building tax base and increasing population …”

-- Was informed that two part-time janitors have been hired to work at the City Centre Mall but a full-time maintenance worker has not been hired yet.

Council Member John Canale reported that a mall merchant commented that she noticed people working in the mall and “appreciated” the City’s effort to improve what has long been a tenuous association between the merchants and the City.

March 28, 2018 - 9:57pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, The Novak Consulting Group.


The Batavia City Council can expect the process of hiring a new city manager to take at least three months and it should be prepared to pay a salary of at least $110,000, according to a representative of the recruitment firm contracted by the municipality to find someone to replace former City Manager Jason Molino.

Six of the nine council members took part in a meeting at the City Centre conference room tonight with Catherine Tuck Parrish, executive search practice leader for The Novak Consulting Group, which is based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Tuck Parrish’s office is in Rockville, Md.

“The market for city managers is what it is … you’re not competing against nonprofits and the private sector,” Tuck Parrish said. “I’ve seen your salary, and you’re going to have a hard time (finding someone at that level).”

Molino ended a nearly 12-year association with the City on Jan. 26, and started his new job as Tompkins County administrator three days later. He left Batavia with a salary of about $94,000; his pay at his new position increased to around $130,000.

Tuck Parrish, during her 60-minute presentation, outlined her company’s proposed recruitment plan – touching on key points such as job postings and outreach, timeline, interview process, and confidentiality and public information. She also distributed a one-pager that set the qualifications for the optimal candidate.

“We’re looking at three deliverables,” she said, calling them a main document, working document and recruitment plan memo.

The main document is a recruitment brochure that “highlights the best of Batavia – the great things about your community,” she said. It also will include the requirements for the job, preferred qualities and how to apply for the position.

The working document is a list of 12- to 18-month goals that “helps me know what is most important to you (City Council) and helps the next manager to say ‘Here’s what I need to do.’ The manager can only focus on so many things and do them well, so this identifies your top priorities.”

The third document, a memo, is the basic recruitment plan that pinpoints where to post the jobs – such as the International City/County Management Association newsletters and the League of Women in Government website, for example – and the related costs, as well as the recruitment schedule and proposed interview process.

Tuck Parrish said her firm will use social media and links, and also “customizes” outreach for each position, including targeting particular individuals.

“If you have an individual or organization (in mind), let me know and instead of you recruiting them, let me handle it,” she said, speaking directly to the council members. “It is my job to protect you.”

As far as the schedule is concerned, Tuck Parrish said telephone interviews with council members, department heads and bureau chiefs were conducted prior to tonight’s briefing. She said she expects drafts of the recruitment plan, brochure and first-year goals to be submitted by April 3 with the board’s final comments on those three items due by April 10.

On April 17, the firm will post the position, place ads and begin outreach to prospective candidates, she said.

“From April 17th through May 29th, that time is our work,” she said, to which Council President Eugene Jankowski replied, “Our goal is to let you do your job and come back to us when you have some candidates.”

That could happen around the week of June 18 when Tuck Parrish will meet with City Council to review the top candidates and select those to be interviewed (in a session closed to the public).

She said that the process must be “completely confidential” to protect both City Council and prospective candidates who, likely, will be employed in similar jobs at the time.

“It’s not that you can’t share names and information during the process, but also after that as well,” she said. “It comes down to a code of silence forever.”

Council members present – John Canale, Rose Mary Christian and Paul Viele were absent – said they would leave it to the recruitment subcommittee of Jankowski, Robert Bialkowski, Adam Tabelski and HR Specialist Dawn Fairbanks to whittle a large field of candidates down to about three, and then the entire board would get involved.

The Novak Group personnel will conduct reference and background checks at the end of June, Tuck Parrish said, with the goal of City Council conducting interviews in early July.

The exact dates are up in the air due to Jankowski having to be in Texas from July 7-27 to film “Shot to the Heart TV,” a shooting competition show involving couples of which he is the host.

Tuck Parrish’s timeline calls for negotiation with the top finalist and approval of the employment agreement happening sometime after July 13, and for the new manager to begin his or her employment within 60 days after that.

Required qualifications include a bachelor’s degree, minimum of five years of local government experience in progressively responsible positions, and supervisor/executive level experience (including time as city/county manager or assistant manager or department director).

Preferred qualifications include a master’s degree, budget development/financial management, grants administration, labor relations, project management, economic revitalization, intergovernmental relations, business/community engagement, strategic planning and credentialed manager.

Tuck Parrish said City Council should expect the new manager to relocate to the City within a “reasonable time after appointment” and set the compensation package at $110,000 to $135,000 (depending upon qualifications), with an excellent benefit package.

She said the expected hiring salary range will be included in the advertising pieces for the position and that she will collect salary information of the finalists.

The contract with The Novak Group calls for the City to pay $23,500 for the firm to "complete the city manager recruitment," plus $1,000-$1,500 for advertising, $175-$300 per top finalist for background checks, and travel costs for finalists to attend interviews in the City.

Photo at top -- Catherine Tuck Parrish, right, makes a point at tonight's city manager recruitment plan meeting; at left is Dawn Fairbanks, City of Batavia HR specialist. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

March 12, 2018 - 11:11pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council.


Batavia City Council breezed through two dozen resolutions tonight, including the unanimous passage of the City budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year that begins on April 1.

“The budget has passed with a 3-percent tax decrease for the current year,” Interim City Manager Matthew Worth said matter-of-factly before exiting Council Chambers to take part in the board’s Executive Session.

The $26.9 million budget, of which $16.7 million comprises the general fund, calls for a tax levy of $5.25 million, and also includes a 2-percent salary increase for 10 supervisors and department heads.

Council also passed Local Law No. 1 for 2018 which establishes 3.5-percent increases in water rates and meter fees, and a 10-percent increase in capital improvement fees. The vote on that measure was 7-1 with Robert Bialkowski casting the “no” vote.

Bialkowski abstained on a 7-0 vote to adopt Local Law No. 2 that allows the City to collect mall concourse maintenance fees from merchants as a result of the litigation settlement between the City and mall merchants.

The annual user fee schedule is $2 per square foot April 1, 2018-March 31, 2021; $2.04 per square foot April 1, 2021-March 31, 2022; and $2.06 per square foot April 1, 2022-March 31, 2023. After the last date, the user fee shall be determined by the revenue needed from the user fee to support the total annual costs of operation, maintenance, management and improvement of the concourse.

In another matter related to the mall, Bialkowski voted with the majority in an unanimous tally to hire a full-time building maintenance worker at $14-18 per hour and benefits and four part-time custodians without benefits.

Three resolutions dealing with the issuance of general obligation bonds were passed by 8-0 counts (Rose Mary Christian was absent).

The first one is a $2.5 million bond for a combined 3.5 miles of pavement milling and overlay on Clinton, Liberty, South Liberty, Swan and Vine streets, and East Avenue. The second is for $800,000 for sidewalk improvements on Washington and Tracy avenues and Liberty Street. And the third is a $750,000 to buy and install a management systems computer software package.

“Most of the bonds are -- with the exception of the software -- major construction projects that we’re actually receiving federal monies for,” Worth said.

“However, with those projects you have to expend the money on the front end of it and then you get reimbursed. These bonds are really just a cash flow to bridge until we’re reimbursed by the federal government.”

Council also passed resolutions to adopt a revised purchasing manual, updated strategic plan and retooled investment policy that, Worth said, affords the City more flexibility.

“When the city as a municipality invests its money into the bank account, the bank has to basically get collateral for our money – to ensure that ours is covered,” he said.

“This flexibility allows the bank to instead of having collateral, (for it) to buy essentially the insurance policy through FDIC to insure the city’s money. That allows them to free up some of their other assets. That being the case, they can offer the City a better return on their invesetment – essentially a higher interest rate on their savings.”

Other resolutions that passed, all unanimously:

-- The purchase of a CAT Loader with a plow and wing for $226,300 from the DPW equipment reserve account. The City is financing it via a “municipal lease,” a tool that keeps the “tax levy somewhat flat and spreads the cost over several (in this case, seven) years,” Worth said. “Once the financing is complete, it is owned by the City.”

Worth said the attachments to the new loader and one bought last year are interchangeable.

“This is very useful … in plowing parking lots, in particular. This is a critical piece of equipment.”

-- An intermunicipal agreement with Genesee County for the City to pay 20 percent of the Genesee County Youth Bureau director's time providing administrative services for the City Youth Bureau, and a revision of the Youth Bureau bylaws.

-- A bid from The Tree Doctor, based in Clarence, for annual tree trimming and removal. Depending upon the size of the tree, costs range from $200 to $3,290 per tree, with trimming costs set at $310 per tree.

-- The transfer of $45,000 from the employee benefit accrued liability reserve fund to meet obligations of accrued benefits due to employees upon termination. Included in the list of payments are a $3,800 payment to the former city manager and $27,000 in payments to former fire department personnel.

-- A contract with Layne Inliner, LLC, of Fairfield, Maine, for $145,212 for the pipelining of 21 segments of sewer mains on portions of Vine Street, Swan Street, Burke Drive and South Main Street. Layne was by far the lowest of six bids received, and is about $45,000 less than the budget amount for the project.

“With Layne’s bid coming in as it did, it will allow us to do more than we anticipated,” Worth said.

Council approved two community events – Z-Club of Batavia High 5K run/walk downtown on April 29 and GLOW Progressives rally and walk at Williams Park on March 24.

Photo at top -- Batavia Middle School fifth-graders Cristian DeSalvo, left, Cooper Crowley and Anthony Licata attended tonight's City Council meeting, observing local government in action as part of their Cub Scout Pack 6069's "Building a Better World" adventure project. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

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