The near completion of a revised Comprehensive Plan, the imminent placement of a state-of-the-art solar wafer manufacturing plant at the WNY Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park in the Town of Alabama, and a steady stream of proposed housing and building projects have Supervisor Gregory Post believing that 2017 will be a banner year for the Town of Batavia.
“While you notice that little has changed from last year in terms of protocols, policies and procedures, I think next year will be more exciting … you’ll see some significant changes,” Post said Wednesday night after the Batavia Town Board organizational and special meeting at Town Hall on West Main Street.
Post said that he expects 2017 to be a “very big and very exciting year” for the municipality and he bases his expectations on several factors, including:
-- The progress the town has made on its revised Comprehensive Plan, which is expected to be finalized by the spring;
-- Action by the Genesee County Economic Development Center to bring1366 Technologies, a Massachusetts solar wafer manufacturing firm, into the STAMP site;
-- Developments such as the Southwest Water District project and the termination of several PILOTS (payments in lieu of taxes) that will increase the town’s revenue in the form of taxes paid by companies doing business in the town.
“I think we’re at a breakpoint … we’re relatively stable and ready to hit that next bump (in economic activity),” he said.
Post said the plan that the board has put into place is designed to keep the tax rate at the current level for the next few years -- $2.64 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for 2017 – as long as revenues go up as expected. He did admit, however, that the negotiations between Genesee County and the City of Batavia on their sales tax allocation agreement as it pertains to water usage could negatively affect the town.
“We’re basing things on the current agreement,” Post said. “(Changes) could have a dramatic impact upon the town’s revenue.”
As far as the Comprehensive Plan is concerned, Post said the town is in prime position for growth “because we’ve been working the hardest for the longest period of time on the plan and its overlays.”
The town’s Comprehensive Plan governs decisions on zoning, capital improvements and budgeting, addressing key issues such as land use, natural resources, agriculture and farmland, parks and recreation, housing, economic development, transportation and government services. It last was updated about seven years ago.
Post also indicated that the board is considering a proposal by David Ficarella of Lovers Lane Road to build a three-story, 110-unit senior apartment complex off Route 33 near Donahue Road, west of the city.
Ficarella, working with Calamar Enterprises of Wheatfield, asked the town to provide breaks in property assessment over a 10-year period in return for the opportunity to generate more than $1 million in county and school tax revenue while also getting a sewer system that it could tap into in the future.
“There is always a way as long as there is an equitable benefit,” Post said in response to a question whether the town would entertain such a request. “We’re in the initial stages; we haven’t said no to anything.”
The project also would involve the extension of Edgewood Drive to Pearl Street and beyond, something that Post said town officials would be talking about in the near future.
In addition to this project, Post said the town is fielding dozens of building and zoning requests from business owners and residents.
In action during the special meeting, the board:
-- Renewed an agreement with Arcadis of New York Inc., of Fairport to provide annual operation and maintenance engineering services at the Town of Batavia Landfill Superfund Site near Galloway and Kelsey roads at a cost of $17,022, slightly more than the $16,982 that was agreed to for 2016.
Seventy-five percent of the cost will be paid by the City of Batavia and the other 25 percent will be covered by the Town. The work involves project coordination and reporting along with groundwater sampling and monitoring.
-- Contracted with WorkFit Medical, of Rochester, to provide drug- and alcohol-testing services for employees at a cost of $100 per employee plus other service fees, such as physicals, immunizations and blood work per a predetermined schedule.
-- Contracted with Royal Employer Services, a program of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, for counseling services at a cost of $320 for 2017.
-- Authorized Joseph Neth, assistant engineer, to participate in the 2017 Leadership Genesee program at a cost of $2,100.
During its organizational meeting, the board:
-- Made the following appointments -- Linda Eick, Wayne Townsend and Marcy Crandall to the Town Board of Ethics; Louis Paganello to the Planning Board for a six-year term; Andrew Young to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a four-year term, and Donna Morrill as an alternate member of the ZBA for a two-year term.
-- Approved salaries of elected officials as follows – Supervisor, $30,000; Deputy Supervisor, $15,000; Council members, $10,000; Town Clerk/Tax Collector, $66,229; Highway Superintendent, $18,035; Town Justice (2), $25,235.