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city of batavia

May 13, 2021 - 11:49am

The managers of Genesee County’s three largest municipalities are exploring the best ways to spend a windfall of federal dollars via the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package or American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden on March 11. It is intended to help the United States recover from the adverse economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession.

While the exact amounts to be allocated to towns and villages have yet to be determined, it has been reported that Genesee County will receive slightly more than $11 million, the City of Batavia will receive between $1.57 and $2.5 million, and the Town of Batavia will receive about $750,000.

Formal guidance on how the money may be used was released earlier this week in the form of a 151-page document.

According to published reports, half of the money is available now and the other half will come 12 months from now. Among the qualifying uses are public health, assistance to businesses and families, replenishment of public sector revenue and enhanced compensation for essential employees.

Funds also can be utilized for water and sewer system infrastructure and increasing access to broadband internet – items that local governmental leaders seem to be focusing upon.

GENESEE COUNTY

“We will be having a discussion with the legislature later on this month at a meeting to give some rough suggestions,” Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said. “I haven’t come up with dollar amounts for each bucket but I already have been looking at areas to put this money towards – water infrastructure, broadband infrastructure, jail infrastructure and some possible economic development initiatives as well.”

Landers called it a “one-time allocation of revenues,” emphasizing that the money can’t be used to reduce property taxes.

He said the county needs to upgrade the infrastructure in both the Phase 2 and Phase 3 Water Project, and is looking at ways to assist towns with a countywide broadband solution.

“We still have a lot of pockets within our county that don’t have access to high speed internet,” he said. “Possibly, we can utilize some of this money to help fill those gaps.”

CITY OF BATAVIA

In Batavia, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said she will be presenting a plan to City Council to allocate the CARES funds to specific projects that could include water, sewer, downtown parking rehabilitation and equipment purchases.

She, too, said these are one-time revenues and, as such, will be recommending “that they should be used for one-time purchases, not continuing operations.”

Tabelski noted that the city just ended its 2020-21 fiscal year (on March 31) and is starting an audit next week.

“So, unlike the county and town, with fiscal years that run from January through December, we need to finish the audit to evaluate the 2020-21 fiscal year final revenue,” she said.

TOWN OF BATAVIA

At the Town of Batavia, Supervisor Gregory Post said the money will offset lost revenue, enabling the town board "to allocate the balance to specific needs, which we are identifying right now to see what qualifies.”

Post indicated that expanding broadband and high-speed internet is at the top of the list.

He also said the money can help the town recover from the lack of upgrades to its comprehensive, solar, land use and agricultural protection plans.

“Furthermore, we would like to develop the scale and scope of how we can maintain all of the services to the community through a virtual town hall, and not having to expend any tax dollars in brick and mortar facilities that are not able to be used in the event of another pandemic or other similar circumstance,” he offered.

Post acknowledged the recent increase in property assessments, pledging to find ways “to best serve the community and keep taxes flat or attenuate any of the expenses incurred during COVID.”

On a national level, it has been reported that some states with Republican governors or legislative majorities have filed lawsuits in an effort to strike down the provision that the funds can’t be used for tax relief – on grounds that the stipulation violates the rights of individual states.

May 5, 2021 - 6:42pm

jackson_sq_2.jpg

The redesigned Jackson Square looks great, but is it functional?

That’s a question that promoters of The Batavia Ramble Music & Arts Festival are hoping City of Batavia officials and representatives of Architectural Resources consider before breaking ground on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative project later this year.

“They’re putting too much emphasis on the artistic aspect of the design and they’re forgetting about the practicality of what it is used for,” said Stephen Kowalczyk, who has been involved in sound, lighting and (recently) administration of The Ramble since its inception 13 years ago.

Kowalczyk expressed his opinion this afternoon – a day after community residents made their way to the venue between Jackson and Center streets near Center Street Smoke House for an informational meeting set up by city leaders and the Buffalo design firm hired to bring new life to the property.

Enhancing Jackson Square is being funded by a strategic investment grant of $750,000 from the New York State DRI program.

Kowalczyk and co-promoter Paul Draper said their main issues are with components of the proposed stage – its configuration, roofing material, its height and placement of a handicap ramp. He said they gave suggestions to the architect previously, but believe their input was disregarded.

City Manager Rachel Tabelski, in an email message this afternoon, did report that The Ramble musicians requested officials to re-examine the sound acoustics, specifically the “current canopy design of the stage and the materiality of the canopy as well as the stage height and the ramp access point to the stage.”

She said the city will work with Architectural Resources to modify the design to accommodate the commentary, including the canopy and stage.

“We want the citizens of Batavia to utilize Jackson Square for a multitude of events and will continue to work through design to get it correct,” she said.

Kowalczyk provided his “blueprint” for making the area not only attractive but practical:

  • Changing the stage's proposed glass roof to wood with 50-year metal roofing over it.

He said a see-through roof idea is not appropriate for the setting.

“Maybe in an open park it might work but it does not work in a concrete jungle that is Jackson Square,” he said. “It’s already an acoustical nightmare because of all the concrete walls, and they’re just going to make it worse by adding more reflective surfaces that are angled inappropriately to the way a band would be on stage.”

  • Changing the stage from the proposed oblong shape to a rectangle.

“There are no right angles on the stage. Every single cut that they’re going to have to make in building this is going to be an odd angle that will take more resources and time to build,” he said. “We’re just asking for a simple rectangle stage with a normal roof on it so the band can have its gear protected and have some shade from the sun.”

  • Keeping the height of the stage at 30 inches instead of the proposed 16 and moving a new handicap ramp from the front of the stage to behind it to avoid having to go over any cables and wires.

“The height of the stage is the biggest thing that’s killing me,” he said. “They’re cutting the stage almost in half, which means anyone further back is not going to be able to see anything.”

Kowalczyk said the proposed design “is not functional or practical for any live event out there except maybe a poetry slam.”

“They kept talking about a poetry slam. For someone who has done acoustic shows there, with the motorcycles and trucks going by, you can’t get away with doing anything with the spoken word. It’s too noisy.”

He said he was hoping to attract band recitals and start movie nights, but the stage reconfiguration would make it difficult to hang banners or a projector screen.

Draper said he thinks the architect had “good intentions but they were considering the design more than the utility of the event space.”

“It seems like they could have done a better job if they would have listened to people who actually utilize the space,” he added.

Tabelski said that the pavement and lighting element feedback was “all positive.”

“The concept integrates many historical layers of Batavia including the Great Bend -- changing the trajectory of the Tonawanda Creek -- the Ancient Seneca Footpaths and the history of ‘old’ downtown Batavia,” she said.

Following approval of the final design concept, the project will move to the construction bidding phase. Groundbreaking is expected this fall, with completion anticipated next spring.

A call to Justina Dziama of Architectural Design this morning was not returned.

jackson_sq_1.jpg

jackson_sq_3.jpg

Architect renderings of the proposed Enhanced Jackson Square project.

May 4, 2021 - 2:15pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city of batavia, The Novak Consulting Group.

City Council Member John Canale was correct in his belief that expenses incurred during the search for a new city manager earlier this year would be minimal.

According to information released by the manager’s office today, it cost the city $3,644.74 for the professional search/interview process that resulted in the hiring of Rachael Tabelski in early March.

Expenses were for advertising in national publications and websites ($1,239), background checks ($1,005.74) and psychological examinations ($1,400) for the potential candidates.

As it turned out, the city was not billed by The Novak Consulting Group of Cincinnati, Ohio – the firm that assisted City Council in this and the previous manager search that brought former manager Martin Moore to Batavia. The contract with Novak stipulated that it Moore left within two years (which he did), then the next search would be free.

In late February, Canale, in response to an inquiry from a Batavia resident, said he would make sure the numbers are provided, and added that he thought they will be “very, very minimal.”

Tabelski moved up from the assistant city manager position to take the lead role upon Moore’s departure last June.

During that time, the city has been functioning without an assistant to Tabelski. This is a considerable cost savings in light of the position’s $82,946 to $100,604 salary range. Furthermore, Tabelski was earning less during the interim as she is now -- more savings for the city.

Meanwhile, Tabelski said that in-person interviews of assistant manager candidates will take place in the near future.

The city also is seeking someone to fill the vacant director of Public Works position.

May 3, 2021 - 2:35pm
posted by Press Release in Memorial Day Parade, city of batavia, news.

Press release

This is an invitation to all members of the community to participate in this year’s Batavia Memorial Day parade on Memorial Day -- Monday, May 31st.

The City of Batavia is sponsoring the parade and we are looking forward to a great turnout. The parade will kick off at 9:45 a.m. from the Eastown Plaza and end at the Alva Place parking lot.  

Any veterans wishing to participate in the parade can just show up at 9:15. Veterans needing a ride in the parade please contact me.

Any groups wishing to participate please let us know as all are welcome. Please keep the theme of respect to all our veterans and first responders.

We will be handing out small American flags to the children.

Let’s show our support to our veterans and first responders! Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy our annual parade!

Thank you,

Bob Bialkowski

City of Batavia

Councilmember at Large

 (585) 409-3624

May 3, 2021 - 11:39am

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider approving incentives for projects proposing $13.5 million of new investments at its May 6 board meeting.  

Forefront Power LLC (Elba Solar) is proposing to invest $9.7 million to build a 5 megawatt community solar project on Norton Road in the Town of Elba. The project would generate approximately $518,803 in new revenue to Genesee County, the Town of Elba, and the Elba Central School District over the proposed 15-year agreement.  

The project also would fund a community benefit agreement for workforce development and economic development projects in Genesee County. Forefront Power LLC is seeking approximately $1.416 million in sales and property tax exemptions. A public hearing on the project incentives was held March 22.

Batavia Special Needs Apartments LP is proposing to invest $3.75 million to add 20 living units to an existing special needs housing campus on East Main Street in the City of Batavia. The project would increase the existing annual PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) payment by approximately $6,000 per year for the remainder of the current PILOT.  Batavia Special Needs Apartments LP is seeking approximately $772,000 in sales and property tax exemptions. A public hearing on the proposed incentives was held April 14.

The GCEDC will also consider initial review of an application by NY CDG Genesee 1 LLC (BW Solar). The proposed project would invest $7.326 million to build a 5 megawatt community solar project on Oak Orchard Road in the Town of Elba. The project would generate approximately $518,803 in new revenue to Genesee County, the Town of Elba, and the Elba Central School District over the proposed 15-year agreement.

If the initial application is accepted, a public hearing on the project will be scheduled, as the project is requesting incentives in excess of $100,000.

The GCEDC Board meeting will at 4 p.m. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the meeting will be conducted via conference and online at www.gcedc.com.

April 29, 2021 - 1:39pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city of batavia, Batavia City Council.

The City of Batavia offers nine parks for citizens to enjoy, starting at 7 a.m. until dusk each day.

All city officials are asking in return – at least for this recreation and picnic season – is for users to take out any and all trash that they take in.

“We are not accepting pavilion rentals this year, which means that the park is open to the public and anyone is free to use it,” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said. “If residents use the pavilions we are asking them to ‘carry in and carry out’ (their trash) at this time.”

Tabelski added that trash receptacles will be placed in high use areas for patrons to use, especially around the playgrounds.

At Monday night’s City Council meeting, she emphasized that trash containers will continue to be available on Main Street as well.

Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said that he wasn’t sure why comments found on social media sites indicated that the city would not be placing trash cans along Main Street.

“It wasn’t a city official spokesperson that even mentioned Main Street,” he said.

Tabelski said that Council, during budget discussions, decided to reduce overtime for the parks department “and one of those ways was to ask citizens who use the pavilions to carry in and carry out.”

The city’s nine parks are as follows:

  • Austin Park, 15 Jefferson Ave.;
  • Centennial Park, 151 State St.;
  • Farrall Park, 101-111 Otis St.;
  • Kibbe Park, 105-111 Kibbe Ave.;
  • Lambert Park, 100 Verona Ave.;
  • Lions Park, 108 Cedar St, and 8 Wallace St.;
  • MacArthur Park, 252B State St.;
  • Pringle Park, 14 Pringle Ave.;
  • Williams Park, 101 Pearl St.

More information about the parks can be found by clicking HERE.

April 23, 2021 - 5:10pm

Updated, April 24, 9 a.m., with comments from City Manager Rachael Tabelski:

--------------

The City of Batavia is “AIM-ing” to fortify its public safety personnel roster.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski, in a memo to City Council dated April 16, is proposing the restoration of a police officer and two firefighters to the 2021-22 budget and the funding of overtime for the Neighborhood Enforcement Team and community policing special details.

This action is possible, she wrote, as a result of New York State passing a budget that includes the full amount of Aid and Incentives for Municipalities’ funding to the city. The city now will receive $1,750,975 in AIM money -- $262,656 more than it had budgeted.

"These vacant positions are now able to be hired if City Council approves the budget amendment," Tabelski said. "AIM aid is an annual reoccurring revenue, and was only adjusted down by the state because of COVID. Once restored in the final state budget, I am comfortable using it to restore positions."

She added that the city workforce would still be short one police officer, one firefighter and one laborer position even after these other three posts are restored.

As far as the overtime funding, Tabelski said, NET and community policing are "special overtime police details normally funded each year via the city budget, but were cut due to COVID revenue challenges."  

"These details include increased neighborhood and community patrols, and community engagement assignments," she said.

Tabelski will be recommending that Council amend the city’s budget to account for the additional funds, allocated as follows:

Police Salary -- $66,464;
Police State Retirement -- $12,033;
Police Social Security -- $6,503;
Fire Salary -- $124,197;
Fire State Retirement -- $23,563;
Fire Social Security -- $12,240;
Police NET Salary -- $7,070;
Police NET Social Security -- $586;
Community Policing Salary -- $9,235;
Community Policing Social Security -- $765.

This proposal is on the agenda of Monday night’s Conference Meeting and, if forwarded, to a Special Business Meeting afterward. The Conference Meeting is scheduled for 7 o’clock at the City Hall Council Board Room.

Other items on the Conference Meeting agenda:

  • Superintendent of Maintenance Ray Tourt will report that bids solicited for a contractor to replace a portion of the City Centre roof will be opened at 10 a.m. on April 29.

In a memo to Tabelski dated March 30, Tourt said the project will involve work not included in the Phase 1 roof replacement – the hallway nearest Dan’s Tire & Auto, the west side loading dock and the utility area. The entranceways (silos) will be part of a future project.

  • Tourt also advised that AJ’s Tree Service of East Amherst submitted the low bid for annual trimming and removal of city trees as budgeted in the 2021-22 city budget. The contract expires on March 31 but can be extended for up to two years if both parties agree.

The amount of AJ’s Tree Service’s bid was not disclosed in the memo.

The Special Business Meeting agenda includes:

  • A resolution to award a contract to Keeler Construction Co. Inc., of Albion, to replace an aging and inefficient air header at the wastewater treatment plant.

Keeler’s bid of $777,425 was considerably less than the next lowest bidder, Village Construction Co., of Victor, which submitted a bid of $1,263,175.

In a memo to Tabelski dated April 19, Tourt wrote that the project will cost an additional $854,000 for engineering work.

As previously reported on The Batavian, the air header is operating at 20 percent of capacity, forcing city officials to move up the timetable to get it replaced. The air header is essential to providing oxygen back into the ponds to digest waste.

Replacement of the air header is part of a $1 million wastewater treatment plant project.

-------------

Monday’s meetings are open to the public with appropriate facemasks, social distancing and temperature screening upon arrival.

Options for viewing the meeting include streamed LIVE on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bataviany/ or Spectrum Channel 1301 at 9 a.m. April 28 and 8 p.m. April 30.

April 20, 2021 - 1:00pm
posted by Press Release in news, city of batavia, Clerk's Office.

From the City of Batavia Clerk's Office:

Due to staff training, the Clerk’s office will be unable to issue the following on Wednesday, April 21st and Thursday, April 22nd:

  • Marriage Licenses or Certificates
  • Copies of Death Certificate
  • Copies of Birth Certificate
  • Fishing/Hunting Licenses
  • New Dog Licensing

The office will remain open for all other services. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Bureau of Clerk/Treasurer

One Batavia City Centre Batavia, NY 14020

Phone: (585) 345-6305

Fax: (585) 343-9221

www.batavianewyork.com

April 13, 2021 - 5:00pm

With a key component of the City of Batavia’s wastewater treatment plant operating at just 20-percent capacity, Maintenance Superintendent Ray Tourt says that it’s imperative to move up the capital project plan timetable to get it fixed.

“We desperately need to get that air back into the pond,” said Tourt at Monday night’s City Council meeting, talking about a faulty air header system at the plant. “We recognize how severe it is becoming.”

Tourt said the city has received about 10 years less than the expected 40-year life of the system, which introduces supplemental air to the three primary wastewater ponds.

In a memo to City Manager Rachael Tabelski dated March 29, Tourt wrote that “this air provides oxygen to the ponds to effectively digest waste.”

“Even though this project is scheduled for (this fiscal year), it was discovered that the system’s rate of decline is higher than originally anticipated,” he wrote. “For this reason, the project is being advanced as quickly as it can be.”

City Council acted favorably to his request, forwarding a resolution to contract with the lowest bidder to its April 26 Business Meeting. Opening of the bids is scheduled for April 19.

Tourt said work will be done in sections, starting with the large 16-inch line and working down to the six-inch line. He noted that the lines will be wrapped to prevent deterioration from the elements.

He said the system is leaking a “significant amount of air” and is creating a distinct odor near and around the ponds. Once that segment of an overall $1 million wastewater treatment plant project is finished – hopefully be the end of summer, he said crews will evaluate the plant’s compressors and diffusers.

In other action related to infrastructure, Council forwarded a resolution to apply for a Northern Border Regional Commission grant in the amount of $328,000 to partially fund a waterline project on Bank Street. The total cost of the project is approximately $410,000 but the city would be responsible for a local match of 20 percent ($82,000).

Tabelski, in a memo to Council dated April 6, wrote that work is needed “to improve water pressure and fire suppression capabilities on Bank Street, as well as enable future development on the City Centre campus and the Alva Place location for the (new) police station.”

She wrote that the Bank Street waterline will be expanded from its current four- and six-inch lines to an eight-inch line.

April 12, 2021 - 5:17pm
posted by Press Release in city of batavia, news, carry-in carry-out trash policy.

Public Notice

To all residents and visitors:

The City of Batavia has implemented a “Carry-in -- Carry-out” trash policy in all city parks.

All park users are requested to remove any trash generated and take with them.

Please, help us keep our parks clean for everyone’s enjoyment.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

From the city Bureau of Maintenance.

March 25, 2021 - 11:58am
posted by Press Release in city of batavia, Law Street Yard Waste Station, news.

Press release:

The Law Street Yard Waste Station will open for the season on Monday, April 5th for City of Batavia residents.

The station will be open from 12 to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday until November, when time changes to 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The station will also be closed on May 31st for Memorial Day, July 5th for Independence Day, Sept. 6th for Labor Day, and Nov. 25th for Thanksgiving. The station will close for the season in early December.

City residents may bring yard waste material (grass, leaves and limbs) to the Law Street Yard Waste Station as there is no spring curbside pickup of these materials.

The following items CANNOT be accepted at the station:

  • Tree stumps;
  • Building materials;
  • Rock;
  • Fill (soil and stone) other debris.

Yard waste shall be free of trash (paper, plastic, bottles, cans, etc.), as this material cannot be processed.

Use Law Street entrance to enter and exit the City Yard Waste Station only.

March 22, 2021 - 8:45pm

Batavia City Manager Rachael Tabelski hasn’t found time to completely move into her new office, but she has wasted little time acting to fill two key administrative positions.

Tabelski, following tonight’s City Council Conference Meeting at the City Centre Council Board Room, said job descriptions for an assistant city manager and director of the Department of Public Works are up on the city’s website and other social media sites and have been sent to municipal and trade associations.

When asked how her first two weeks as the permanent city manager have gone, Tabelski said it has been business as usual except for the task of transferring her workload and possessions to the city manager’s office.

“Well, it doesn’t really feel different. I started moving my office today – I finally got a break .. and this morning I took about 20 minutes to start moving things,” she said. “But I think that the most exciting thing that we have is that we just announced the posting for the assistant city manager job and the director of DPW.”

The city has been without an assistant city manager since June of last year when Tabelski moved up from that role to replace Martin Moore. Just recently, she appointed Ray Tourt to replace Matt Worth (who retired) as DPW director but Tourt has decided to return to his former position of superintendent of the Bureau of Maintenance.

“So, that certainly is progress in terms the first two weeks as the official manager,” Tabelski said. “And that will certainly help with the workload that the managers’ currently have (by) filling those positions and getting projects moving.

“We just released a job description and advertisement on Friday afternoon and started posting on social media. We will be advertising with our local partners as well as with associations across the state to find the qualified candidate that wants to come in and do a lot of project work, actually.”

Tabelski said the assistant manager position is going to be “very project based.”

“This person should have a degree in Business or a business-related field or Public Administration, and with years’ experience and be very comfortable in a top executive role with our city,” she said.

The actual job description indicates the assistant will execute projects “in a timely and professional manner with a focus on financial tracking and compliance … (and) provide … accurate and timely information to support decision-making and policy direction …”

Some of the many “typical work activities” listed include assisting with collective bargaining, operating and capital budgets, and evaluation of the city’s fiscal position in relation to the budget. The assistant manager also will oversee the creation of an administrative services budget to include the clerk/treasurer, youth, information technology, assessor and human resources.

The salary range for the assistant city manager is $82,946 to $100,604, and the selected individual will have to move into the city within six months of the appointment.

No salary range is listed for the DPW director, who is responsible for the management of the Bureau of Engineering and Inspection, Bureau of Water and Wastewater, and the Bureau of Maintenance.

In other developments:

  • As first reported on The Batavian, the Genesee Country Farmers’ Market is looking to move across Alva Place into the former JC Penney parking lot this summer (actually beginning on June 4).

Council members seemed to be pleased with the move, especially after Tabelski said that there would be plenty of parking available even if another store moved into the empty building.

Council Member Rose Mary Christian noted that alcohol will be served and questioned whether farmers’ market officials had the appropriate permits or licenses. During a brief back and forth, she asked several times for City Attorney George Van Nest to check into it.

The application submitted by Sharon Brant, farmers’ market treasurer, indicates that the organization has a special permit through the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the NYS Liquor Authority for tasting only, and that vendors can sell alcoholic beverages in approved sealed containers.

The market is scheduled to run on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Oct. 29.

Tabelski mentioned that she has been meeting with farmers' market officials on a regular basis and is planning a downtown "walk-through" to look at potential permanent sites for the operation.

  • Council moved two resolutions to its Business Meeting on April 12.

One was to create a temporary position of superintendent of water and wastewater as a result of current Superintendent Bill Davis’ intention to retire within the next eight to 12 months.

Tabelski encouraged Council to “fill the position in advance to avoid a large knowledge gap,” adding that similar action was taken in the case of police officer retirements.

She said she expects to advertise for the Civil Service position soon, with an eye on filling it by the end of May.

Council Member John Canale asked if the city’s hiring freeze pertaining to this position.

Tabelski said the freeze was for jobs in the general fund, while this is being paid for by the water and wastewater funds.

The other resolution was to authorize the Community Garden board to apply for an AARP Community Challenge Grant of up to $10,000 to improve the garden on MacArthur Drive.

Tourt said proposed enhancements would be for materials to construct a hardscaped patio with a pergola (outdoor garden feature forming a shaded walkway, passageway, or sitting area of vertical posts or pillars) and to add more planting beds.

Deadline to submit the grant is April 14.

March 11, 2021 - 9:15am

Batavia City Manager Rachael Tabelski was spot on Monday night when she predicted the “lower figure” would be allocated to the city through the $1.9 trillion federal relief act known as the American Rescue Plan.

Tabelski reported at this week’s City Council meeting that she received estimates “ranging between $1.57 million and $2.5 million, so I’ll go with the lowest figure -- 1.5 to come into the City of Batavia, specifically.”

Tentative dollar amounts released Wednesday by Sen. Charles Schumer’s office and the National Association of Counties indicate that the city will get $1.58 million as a result of the legislation.

Tabelski categorized the funding as a “windfall” in that the money must be used for certain projects such as infrastructure and not to “stabilize our operations.” Municipal leaders are waiting for more details on how the money can be spent.

Genesee County is targeted to receive $11.11 million, in range of what County Manager Matt Landers had forecasted. 

The county’s 14 towns are expected to receive $4.66 million, divvied up as follows:

  • Town of Alabama, $190,000;
  • Town of Alexander, $270,000;
  • Town of Batavia, $750,000;
  • Town of Bergen, $320,000;
  • Town of Bethany, $190,000;
  • Town of Byron, $250,000;
  • Town of Darien, $330,000;
  • Town of Elba, $250,000;
  • Town of Le Roy, $810,000;
  • Town of Oakfield, $330,000;
  • Town of Pavilion, $260,000;
  • Town of Pembroke, $450,000;
  • Town of Stafford, $260,000.

Allocations to Orleans and Wyoming counties are expected to be $7.83 million and $7.73 million, respectively.

In other City of Batavia government news:

  • Tabelski and City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said they are waiting to receive some outstanding invoices before determining the total amount that was spent to conduct the nationwide search for a permanent city manager.

Jankowski previously told The Batavian that he figured it would be around $5,000. The city contracted with The Novak Consulting Group of Cincinnati, Ohio, to assist in the search following the departure of Martin Moore last June. (The Batavian has requested an itemized list of all expenses).

Some residents have criticized the city for conducting another search (Novak was involved in the search that resulted in Moore’s hiring in 2018) when it could have hired Tabelski, who had been serving in an interim role for the past eight months.

Council opted to conduct a full search, however, as a stipulation in the contract with Novak indicated it would be provided at no cost, other than travel, advertising and related expenses.

As it turned out, even if the expenses involved to reach a decision to appoint Tabelski as the permanent city manager increase to $6,000, for example, the city will have saved significantly in salary over that time.

If Tabelski was hired in July, her salary would have jumped from (approximately) $7,398 per month to $9,166 per month – a difference of $1,768 per month. Multiply that times eight months and you get $14,144. The city did give Tabelski a stipend of $1,000 per month for the additional duties, so the savings decrease to $6,144.

But what also must be considered is that if Tabelski was hired in July, she would have brought on an assistant manager in short order. Even at a salary of $75,000, for example, that would have cost the city another $45,000 to 50,000 or so in personnel expenses.

Jankowski said initially he was in favor of “speeding up the hiring process” as he supported Tabelski for the job, but he thinks the decision to conduct the search was the right one.

“Looking back on that, I’m glad I acted on the feedback I received and supported moving on with a full and complete search,” he said. “It was fair and thorough. The search committee did a great job and I’m proud to have been a part of the process.”

  • Tabelski, responding to an email from The Batavian, confirmed that Ray Tourt had opted not to accept the permanent position of Department of Public Works director.

“After additional consideration, Ray Tourt has decided not to take the permanent/provisional appointment of Director of Public Works,” Tabelski said. “Ray, a 20-plus-year veteran of the city, is committed to the City of Batavia and will remain the interim director while the city conducts a full search, and hiring process for a new director.”

Once a new director is hired, Tourt will go back to his former position of superintendent of the Bureau of Maintenance, and the city’s Human Resources department will begin to advertise for the position of DPW director in the near future, Tabelski added.

Tourt was appointed DPW director in December after Matt Worth’s announcement that he would be retiring.

March 9, 2021 - 12:30pm

Batavia is on the front end of a New York State grant program designed to move the city closer to renovating the City Centre and Harvester campuses.

At Monday night’s Business Meeting, City Council passed a resolution authorizing Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. to sign a contract with the New York Department of State to secure $193,500 via a Brownfield Opportunity Area Pre-Development Grant.

The city applied for the funding in July 2019, received approval six months later and now has the finalized contract in hand.

“It’s a brand-new grant program and we’re one of the first communities to receive this,” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said, adding that it is unique in that the state will pay the city in quarterly installments, with the first payment in advance.

“With BOA grants, that is typically how it works. With other state grants, you have to spend everything before you get the reimbursement,” she added.

Tabelski said the grant will pay for the bulk of the project’s $215,000 price tag. The remainder is set aside for in-kind staff support from the city manager’s office, public works director, maintenance supervisor and the Batavia Development Corporation director.

She said funds will be used for preliminary engineering and architectural studies; legal and real estate services; zoning updates; marketing, and developer communication at both sites and for possible site and subdivision layouts and legal, real estate and demolition analysis at the Harvester Avenue facility.

The grant will open the door to needed enhancements at the City Centre, which was awarded $1 million from the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, and to transform the 23-acre Harvester industrial site into an updated hub for business, Tabelski said.

In other action, Council approved the following resolutions:

  • On a 7-1 vote, with Rose Mary Christian opposing, the 2021-22 budget ordinance and a local law setting new water rates, meter fees and a capital improvement fee. The property tax rate will go from $9.59 per thousand of assessed value to $9.73 per thousand, while the water rates and meter fees will increase by 3.5 percent and the capital improvement fees will go up by 10 percent.
  • The addition of the GLOW YMCA to the building space lease agreement with City Church at 114 Liberty St. in light of approval to have the YMCA run the city’s youth program beginning April 1. In conjunction with those measures, Council voted to terminate a previous contract with Genesee County for a shared youth bureau executive director.
  • The amending of the Batavia Downtown Business Improvement District Plan that allows spending for marketing banners ($9,000), music equipment ($30,000) and Christmas decorations ($38,000) and adjusts the amount of the BID’s assessment charge to its members.
March 9, 2021 - 8:58am

As much as $2.5 million could be on its way to the City of Batavia through the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that is expected to be approved by the House of Representatives either today or Wednesday before being sent to President Biden for signing into law.

“We’ve had figures ranging between $1.57 million and $2.5 million, so I’ll go with the lowest figure -- 1.5 to come into the City of Batavia, specifically,” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said after Monday night’s City Council Business Meeting at the City Hall Council Board Room.

The massive COVID-19 relief bill includes another round of $1,400 direct payments to income-eligible citizens as well as money for schools, small businesses, vaccines and expansion of the child tax credit. It has been hailed as a great victory for the Biden Administration, but lawmakers on the Republican side have opposed it, stating that only 9 percent of the funds go directly to coronavirus relief.

Already passed by the Senate, the current plan on the House floor appropriates $23.8 billion for New York State, broken down as follows:

  • $12.569 billion for New York State government;
  • $6.141 billion for New York’s metro cities;
  • $3.907 billion for New York’s counties;
  • $825 million for New York’s small cities, towns and villages;
  • $358 million for New York State broadband investment.

Tabelski termed money earmarked for Batavia as a “windfall.”

“The issue with the revenue is that it is not sustainable … it’s a windfall to the city,” she said. “You have to look at it for one-time type projects, and it can only be spent on certain things, like water, wastewater, infrastructure, broadband infrastructure, things of that nature.”

She said that the funds aren’t “something we can use at this point to stabilize our operations” but can be used to advance projects identified by city leaders.

She said it is unclear exactly how the money can be spent.

“Does it have to be COVID-related or can it be open-ended? So, when those rules and regulations are promulgated, we’ll have a lot better picture of how we’re able to move that forward on behalf of the residents of the city,” she advised.

Looking at Genesee County, its chief administrative officer anticipates the county receiving between $11 million and $12 million once the bill is passed.

“Guidelines are still coming out to help municipalities such as counties and cities better identify how we can allocate those monies in our communities,” County Manager Matt Landers said this morning.

“Basically, the broad strokes, the big picture that has been provided to me so far is that we can spend it on things like economic development projects, and infrastructure needs like broadband and water.”

He also pointed out that the money can be used to replace verifiable lost revenue.

“And we certainly can demonstrate lost revenue in Genesee County from lost sales tax and even lost state aid,” he said. “And also cover current and future COVID costs … and costs related to the pandemic that may qualify, such as the delay of our (proposed new) county jail. We have delayed our jail probably a good year or two, and the prices have gone up since then.”

Landers said he will be on a conference call with New York State Association of Counties officials on Friday to learn more about the parameters of the American Rescue Plan and share ideas with other county administrators.

“To my knowledge, you can access the money for prior lost revenue … things that have happened as a result of the pandemic and then there are specific projects in the community that we can put it towards,” he offered.

“That’s where the economic development and infrastructure projects come in, working with the Chamber of Commerce and GCEDC (Genesee County Economic Development Center) to see of there are some projects that will meet the criteria – when we actually learn what the criteria is.”

Batavia Town Supervisor Gregory Post said he has not received specific details, but indicated any funding for the town would likely be funneled through the county.

“We received absolutely nothing officially, in fact we’re still trying to get FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) reimbursements and work through that process,” said Post, adding that the town board will convene on Wednesday to possibly find out more about the latest relief package.

Post said there’s “a lot to offset” because municipalities did not receive the state aid that was expected.

“Counties are still recovering from that as well as a lot of towns,” he said.

February 6, 2021 - 11:59am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city of batavia, Batavia City Council.

On Monday night, the Batavia City Council is expected to schedule a public hearing on the municipality’s 2021-22 budget, a $16.79 million general fund spending plan that currently calls for a 1.38-percent increase in the property tax rate.

While the tax hike is modest (the annual increase will be about $13 on a home assessed at $100,000), in Councilperson-At-Large Robert Bialkowski’s eyes it still is significant and could be a harbinger of things to come.

“Three of us are Councilman-At-Large and we have to look at the whole city for the budget, not just an individual area,” Bialkowski said today. “The individual council members are all in there, doing what they’re supposed to do by fighting for their neighborhoods and all that, but everybody has been cut in the budget. And I think that this is just the beginning of more to come.”

Bialkowski called out the state and federal government for mismanaging their finances.

“When you look at the state being millions of dollars down the rat hole, and the federal government spending money that we don’t have – borrowed money, I think it’s time for people to start doing more for themselves and getting use to not having some of the nice things that they’re used to having,” he said.

“This winter is good example. People need to get out and start shoveling their sidewalks, not expecting the government to do everything for them. Still, all the services are there – the police and fire departments’ shifts will be fully manned. We made cuts in every department; every department is feeling the pinch.”

Department Heads to be Commended

Bialkowski credited the city’s department heads for coming through “in stellar fashion.”

“They’ve sharpened the pencil and eliminated things that we can live without,” he said, “but as far as being a short-term problem, I don’t think so. Everybody is looking for grants but grants are from the people.”

On the tax increase, he said that people who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 “don’t have $12 or $13 now (to pay their taxes), and they won’t have it next year. We’re very aware of the financial situation.”

He said he also is worried that owners of rental units in the city, some who haven’t seen any rent in close to a year, will walk away from their properties – creating another potential loss in revenue to the city.

In closing, Bialkowski said “overall, I’m comfortable with it (the budget), and if people have a real serious objection, they’ll have an opportunity for input at the public hearing (which is set for 7 p.m. Feb. 22 during Council’s Conference Meeting).

Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski, in a video interview with The Batavian on Friday, echoed some of Bialkowski’s sentiments, especially noting that the budgetary crunch could continue on for quite some time.

Tabelski: 'Can't Sustain This Forever'

“I would say the average home that’s (assessed at) $100,000 will have an increase of $13 on their city tax bill annually – a dollar a month increase. But, I will say that the city can’t sustain this forever, so we’re going to be looking at … how we do this moving forward,” she said. “The news on the sales tax was pretty good, only down 1 ½ to 2 percent. There are positive things that are happening but it’s still too early to tell.”

Tabelski said revenue is down about $800,000 compared to last year.

“I’d say the hardest part about this year is the loss of revenue plus the increase in costs,” she said. “Our best asset in the city is our personnel and we have great people that work on behalf of the city in public safety as well as clearing the roads and in our clerk’s office. It was very difficult to have positions that are going to remain frozen. We originally scheduled a layoff but now we don’t have to do that.”

She said not being able to fill every position puts an added burden on employees who work in the various city departments.

“This is a budget that I don’t like. I don’t like this budget but it is fiscally accurate and it doesn’t put a huge burden onto the property taxpayers, (the amount to be raised by taxes is $5.8 million) but just the uncertainty of the pandemic and the situation that our residents are in, exceeding the (state’s 2 percent) tax cap was not advised and certainly Council did not want that to happen,” she said. “So, we were able to deliver a budget that did not do that.”

Tabelski said city employees historically have “done a lot with a little,” and she is confident that all will pull together “to get through this crisis to get to more stable times.”

“And the state government is a factor in this, too, because that’s where some of our aid loss is coming from, and not just in sales tax.”

Options to View the Meeting

Monday’s City Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the City Hall Council Board Room.

As the Yellow Zone restriction was lifted from Batavia, this meeting will be open to the public with appropriate face masks, social distancing and temperature screening upon arrival.

Options for viewing the meeting include Batavia News Service YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOdvZ9lGH0FiD9ADz6Cg6EQ

Livestreaming on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bataviany/

Spectrum Channel 1301 – 9 a.m. Feb. 10 and 8 p.m. Feb. 12.

The agenda also includes the following:

  • A public hearing to provide information on the Community Development Block Grant program through the state Office of Homes and Community Renewal. The city is hoping to obtain a CDBG grant to fund infrastructure projects.
  • Scheduling of public hearings on Feb. 22 to establish new water rates, meter fees and capital improvement fees, and to amend the Batavia Downtown Business Improvement District Plan.

Water rates and quarterly meter service fees are projected to increase by 3.5 percent, with quarterly capital improvement fees increasing by 10 percent.

Amendments to the BID Plan center upon three proposed capital projects -- downtown marketing banners ($9,000), downtown music equipment ($30,000) and downtown Christmas decorations ($38,000) – and the amount of the BID’s assessment charge to its members.

January 30, 2021 - 11:53am
posted by Press Release in news, city of batavia.

Press release:

Please be advised that Batavia City Council will be holding the 2021/22 budget work sessions on the following dates:

Monday, Feb.1 at 6 p.m. -- 2nd  Budget Work Session (General Gov’t, General Admin. Services, & Police);
Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. -- 3rd  Budget Work Session (DPW, Fire);
Monday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. -- Business Meeting, introduce budget ordinance;
Monday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. -- Conference Meeting, last opportunity to make budget amendments;
Monday, March 8 at 7 p.m. -- Adopt budget and related resolutions.

As the Yellow Zone restriction was lifted from Batavia, this meeting will be open to the public with appropriate facemasks, social distancing and temperature screening upon arrival.

January 26, 2021 - 2:27pm
posted by Press Release in city of batavia, news, streetlights.

Press release:

There have been reports of many streetlights within the City of Batavia that are not operating properly.

If you see a light that is out or appears to not be operating correctly, please send as much information to the city as you can: street, pole number, and nearest house address.

The city will determine if it is a city-owned light and make repairs as soon as we can. If it is a National Grid light we will notify them of the issue.

National Grid also has a direct website that you can put the information of the streetlight into.

Winter conditions may cause a few weeks for repairs to be made.

Please send information to:

Email:  [email protected], or call (585) 345-6325.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Bill Davis

Superintendent of Water and Wastewater

January 15, 2021 - 11:45am
posted by Press Release in news, city of batavia, christmas tree pickup.

Press release:

The City of Batavia has been picking up Christmas trees for the month January and will continue through the end of the month as weather and operations permit.

Important information regarding Christmas tree removal:

  • We can only pick up real trees. No artificial trees.
  • Residents are to place trees in the parkway near the curb. Keep trees out of the roadway and clear of sidewalks.
  • Residents placing trees out will need to strip the trees of all decorations, lights, stands and bags. These items damage chipping equipment. Contact your waste disposal company for information on the proper disposal of these items.
  • If high winds are forecasted, delay putting trees out until after winds have subsided. Trees in the road and across sidewalks are a hazards to motorists and pedestrians.
  • Keep trees free of snow and ice so they are visible and do not become frozen to the ground.
  • Please, have trees out for pickup before Jan. 31. (Last day of pickup is Feb. 1.)
January 12, 2021 - 1:58pm
posted by Press Release in news, water main repair, city of batavia.

Press release:

The City of Batavia Water Department is going to be repairing a water main leak in front of 142 Pearl St. on Wednesday Jan. 13. Work will begin at 8 a.m. and should be completed by 3 p.m.

The water will be turned off on Pearl Street. from 100 Pearl to the western City line.

Surrounding areas may have reduced pressure and discolored water.

City crews will make every attempt to restore water as soon as possible.

We appreciate your understanding while this repair is being made.

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