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city of batavia

December 9, 2019 - 12:02pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, GoFundMe, liberty street standoff.

The sister of the Liberty Street man who has been displaced as a result of a 20-hour police standoff on Nov. 18-19 said she is looking into filing an insurance claim against the City of Batavia for damages inflicted upon her brother’s apartment.

“We’re considering that (filing a form with the Supreme Court of the State of New York) against the City, but we’re waiting to see how much we get from the GoFundMe page,” Mary Ellen Wilber said this morning. “Hopefully, we won’t have to.”

Currently, the GoFundMe.com campaign set up for her brother, David Zanghi, has raised $1,250 toward its goal of $2,000, with the money to be used to replace the man’s personal belongings, including clothes, which were destroyed by tear gas used during the standoff between the suspect, Daniel Wolfe, 45, and police.

Police responded to 209 Liberty St. in the early afternoon of Nov. 18 after receiving a domestic disturbance call. Wolfe proceeded to barricade himself inside his upstairs apartment and reportedly shot at officers with a pellet gun.

The situation remained unchanged until the next morning when Wolfe finally surrendered. During the impasse, personnel from several county and state agencies assisted City Police.

Wolfe was put in Genesee County Jail where he awaits a court appearance set for this Thursday.

Meanwhile, Wilber said that Zanghi, 66, who lived downstairs, will be moving into another apartment later this week and is seeking the City’s assistance in removing his contaminated clothes.

“While I can’t say enough about the kindness of (City Manager) Marty Moore and (Assistant City Manager) Rachael Tabelski. I can’t say the same about the attitude of the police department,” said Wilber, who splits her time between Batavia and New Jersey.

She said that she asked if police could go in with their protective gloves and masks to put Zanghi’s clothes into garbage bags.

“They have the equipment to do this, but there are not willing to, which is disappointing,” she said.

Wilber said that Moore and another person will be meeting her at the Liberty Street home at 5 p.m. Tuesday to remove the clothes and other items.

“The city manager is willing to do this – to take his time after a full day’s work – because the city police won’t,” she said.

City Police Chief Shawn Heubusch, when contacted this morning, said he had no comment and referred the matter to the city manager’s office.

Moore, when asked for an update this morning, confirmed that he would be helping out on Tuesday "personally" (not in an official capacity) and said that talks with Wilber have been “cordial.”

He also noted that members of the police department have been reaching out individually to a number of causes during the holiday season.

As far as an insurance claim was concerned, Moore said Wilber “had not indicated which way she was going to go, but that the City deals with similar claims on a regular basis.”

Wilber said that her brother already has been helped by several organizations, including the Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern, Catholic Charities, Ascension Parish and St. Padre Pio churches, Genesee Justice and Community Action of Orleans and Genesee.

“We want to keep this as fiscally responsible as possible – it’s our tax dollars (that contribute to getting donations),” she said. “Marty and Rachael are doing such a great job and the people in our community have stepped up, and we realize that money needs to go to other people, too.”

December 3, 2019 - 4:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in city of batavia, phone system outage, news.

From Assistant City Manager Rachael Tabelski:

The City of Batavia phone system has been restored for all City locations. The phone outage was caused by a power outage in the server room that caused an equipment failure. We do not anticipate any further problems at this time.

November 26, 2019 - 4:20pm
posted by Billie Owens in city of batavia, hlom, history, Ruth McEvoy, news.

Submitted photo and press release:

City of Batavia Historian Larry Barnes (above, right) and Holland Land Office Museum Executive Director Ryan Duffy (pictured left) announce the publication of an amended version of the "History of the City of Batavia" written in 1993 by Ruth M. McEvoy.

The original book, published 26 years ago, has long been out of print, but continues to be in demand among local residents. Barnes and Duffy decided to address this situation by working with Michael Hodgins of Hodgins Printing Co. to scan a surviving original copy and then print another 200 books for sale to the public.

These copies are now available at the Holland Land Office Museum bookstore.

The reprinting of McEvoy’s book provided an opportunity to correct errors in the original publication. To this end, Barnes identified 50 instances where errors had crept into McEvoy’s otherwise excellent book. Three additional pages are inserted into the amended edition for the purpose of pointing out the appropriate corrections.

McEvoy was the Batavia city historian from 1971 to 1985. She was also director of the Richmond Memorial Library for eight years in addition to serving as a member of many community organizations including the Holland Purchase Historical Society. McEvoy, now deceased, was named a “Fabulous Female” by the YWCA in 2003.

Barnes views McEvoy’s book, his own "History of Batavia: 1801 to 2015" (available online through the City’s website), and his Batavia Revisited (published by Acadia Press) as the three publications which together provide the most comprehensive history of the city. According to Barnes, each in its own unique manner complements the other two books in a way that readers should find especially satisfying.

November 16, 2019 - 5:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in Elm Street, water main break, city of batavia, news.

From Bill Davis, superintendent of water/wastewater for the City of Batavia:

The City of Batavia Water Dept. is on location of a water main break in front of 215 Elm St. The water has been turned off on Elm north of North Street.

Homes in the surrounding area may experience rusty water, please do not attempt to do laundry at this time.

We appreciate your understanding while this repair is made. City crews will make every attempt to restore water as soon as possible.

UPDATE: Water service was restored just before 8 p.m.

November 12, 2019 - 8:59pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, genesee county, Batavia City Council.

Approval of a 40-year water supply agreement between the City of Batavia and Genesee County is a win-win situation for both municipalities, according to a City official who has played an integral role in the negotiations.

Speaking after tonight’s Batavia City Council meeting – at which council members unanimously approved the amended agreement through the year 2059, Public Works Director Matt Worth said the new pact equally benefits both entities.

“The important parts of it are, from the City point of view, is the City (last month) entered into a 40-year agreement with the sales tax with Genesee County -- which gives it stability as a financial revenue long-term – and, in addition, the City now does not have to build a new water plant,” Worth said.

Worth estimated the cost of a new water plant at $35 million, expressing relief that the city no longer has that responsibility.

From Genesee County’s perspective, Worth said the agreement’s additional 60-cent surcharge (per 1,000 gallons) gives the county the long-term stability to fund necessary improvements.

“Over the 40 years, the county can go for long-term bonds and has the ability to say ‘Yes we have the revenue stream to pay for those bonds’ (and that leads to) better rates and long-term stability to do those improvements and bring the additional water in,” Worth noted. “Hopefully that spurs all the economic development and growth that usually comes along with public water.”

Worth said the prior agreement -- an extension of the original contract from 2000 -- runs through Dec. 31 and included a 60-cent surcharge to help pay for water improvements. This new agreement goes out to Dec. 31, 2059 and tacks on another 60-cent surcharge to the City.

He said it could provide the impetus to get water into other areas of the county.

“It could mean getting public water into some of those towns and areas that have not had it – Bethany being a prime example,” he said. “Alabama didn’t have water for quite a while, now they’re starting to get water into that town as well.

“That’s kind of the avenue that has been put forward for long-term stability financially and long-term stability as far as providing safe, public drinking water to an awful lot of the county.”

City Council also passed, by 9-0 votes, a restated lease with Genesee County for water treatment facilities that would transfer the plant to the county once it is no longer being used, by mutual agreement, and a restated operations and maintenance agreement for the water treatment plant that takes into account actual costs compared to budget costs, with the City and County equally splitting any surplus end-of-the-year funds.

Both of these agreements are for 10 years.

November 12, 2019 - 3:46pm

Press release:

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) announced that the City of Batavia has received the GFOA's Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the fifth consecutive year.

The award was presented to City Manager Martin Moore, Ph.D, who also serves as director of Finance. It represents a significant achievement by the City and reflects the commitment of the City Council and staff to meet the highest principles of governmental budgeting. 

“For the last five years the City of Batavia has prepared a comprehensive budget presentation that addresses not only the fiscal plans and polices of the City, but also the strategic goals and strategies that the organization seeks to achieve in the short and long term,” said City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. “I applaud the City staff for continuing to create a best-in-class budget document.” 

Award recipients have pioneered efforts to improve the quality of budgeting and provide an excellent example for other governments throughout North America. The award is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

In order to receive the budget award, the City had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well the City’s budget serves as:

  • A policy document
  • A financial plan
  • An operations guide
  • A communications device

Budget documents must be rated "proficient" in all four categories, and the 14 mandatory criteria within those categories, to receive the award. 

The City of Batavia is one of only four cities and only eight municipal recipients to achieve this award in the State of New York.

The Government Finance Officers Association advances excellence in government finance by providing best practices, professional development, resources and practical research for more than 20,500 members and the communities they serve.

October 24, 2019 - 5:08pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, genesee county, city of batavia.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday signed into law Bill S4247 that allows Genesee County and the City of Batavia to enter into a sales tax allocation agreement not to exceed 40 years.

Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell said that justification for the bill focuses on the need for the county “to fund its new jail capital project and for long-term debt payments over the next 30 to 40 years to become sustainable.”

Sen. Michael R. Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Steven Hawley supported this legislation in their respective bodies, and it arrived on the governor’s desk last Friday after being passed earlier in the year by both the Senate and Assembly.

As part of the process, bonds will be issued to fund construction with a term of up to 40 years. This means that both the County and City will have assurances that, for the duration of the bonds, they can count on a distinct sales tax revenue stream.

Historically, the state Comptroller’s Office does not approve contracts of this nature that are longer than 10 years in duration; normally, the length is five years. But lawmakers were able to remove the “duration” roadblock to get the bill passed into law.

A little more than a year ago, 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 – 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.

The City and County extended its agreement to the end of this year in anticipation of passage of the special legislation (S4247).

August 21, 2019 - 11:48am

youth_center_trio_1.jpg

With much to be done before next week’s ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house, Tuesday was not the time for a photo shoot of the soon-to-be-ready Liberty Center for Youth at the corner of Liberty Street and Central Avenue.

But it was an appropriate time for the major players in the project – Jocelyn Sikorski, Jeff Townsend and Rachel Hale – to give this reporter an inside look at what kids can expect when school begins on Sept. 4.

“We’re about 40 to 50 percent done (with the extensive renovations),” said Sikorski, executive director of the City of Batavia Youth Bureau, admitting to being somewhat weary from taking part in the move from the old youth bureau building on MacArthur Drive.

Sikorski also shared her excitement as the partnership between the City of Batavia and the Genesee Area Family YMCA (which evolved under the working title of Teen City) is ready to bear fruit at the former St. Anthony’s School, property which is owned by City Church.

“We’re really pleased with the way things are going,” she said. “This is going to be great for the kids.”

She was joined on the tour by Townsend, district executive director of the GLOW YMCA Inc., and Rachel Hale, the YMCA’s community development director.

The Liberty Center for Youth has a lot to offer for students from the ages of 9-16. Hours will be 2:30 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday during the school year and 1 to 6 p.m. during the summer.

The first floor will feature a tech center, video gaming room, four square room, table game room, boys and girls bathrooms, and cafeteria -- with stairs to the second floor located on both sides of the cafeteria.

A lift (elevator) also has been added per the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is located in an area that used to be the school’s kitchen.

Other ADA-required modifications include the placement of 28 security cameras inside and outside, and new doors and a ramp on the Central Avenue side of the building.

-- The tech center (25-foot by 20-foot) will offer 10 computer stations – five of them donated by Marchese Computer Products – along with tables for work space in what used to be the St. Anthony’s School library.

A smart board will be attached to one of the walls and computer tablets will be available for use by students. The room also will support activities such as job/life skills seminars and is designed for youth to interact on a 1:1 basis with staff or to work quietly in small groups.

-- The cafeteria (70x60) has been completely gutted and renovated, and is equipped with round tables and chairs. It will function as a room for arts & crafts, board games and team building and where kids can have their snacks.

“You can call this the ‘Blue Room’,” Sikorski said, noting the couple shades of blue paint on the wall.

This is where all the children will reconvene at the end of each day, around 5:30 p.m., to make sure everyone is accounted for during cleanup time, Sikorski said.

-- The video gaming room (12x20) and four square room (20x20) are located behind the south wall of the cafeteria and provide further entertainment.

A flat screen TV and gaming systems will be available on a rotating basis for a predetermined amount of time, with the equipment under lock and key.

The four square room is ready to go, with the rules prominently displayed on one of the walls.

-- The carpeted table game room (20x27) is across the hall from the cafeteria. It will offer pool, ping-pong, air hockey, foosball and more.

The second floor holds the check-in station and a large gymnasium (basketball court) that can be used for volleyball, floor hockey and other group activities.

Hale, who during an internship donated hundreds of hours writing grants and setting up the curriculum, said the youth center received an abundance of sports equipment and games through the Ralph Wilson Legacy Fund and the Rochester Community Health Foundation.

Students will enter through the main doors on the Liberty Street side of the building and immediately be “checked-in” at the window of a small office, which also can be used for one-on-one discussion, parental meetings and as a space for those with additional social needs.

After check-in, kids go directly into the gymnasium and from there can go downstairs if they wish.

The Liberty Center for Youth project has been the beneficiary of numerous grants, led by a $100,000 pledge from the Genesee United Way. The City and YMCA have entered into a lease agreement with owner City Church.

Hale said the success of the joint venture is a proud achievement for the community.

“It’s encouraging to watch these two entities come together … to create that space for individuals,” she said. “I’m very excited to see what will become of this new youth center.”

In preparation for its opening, the Liberty Center for Youth staff has participated in team-building exercises and will undergo CPR and first-aid training, sensitivity training and child abuse indicator training, Sikorski said.

Both Sikorski and Townsend will address the public at the ribbon-cutting ceremony from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 29, and will be there later that day (5 to 6:30 p.m.) to greet parents and grandparents at an open house.

Photo at top -- Ready to greet students at the check-in window of the Liberty Center for Youth (former St. Anthony's School) are these friendly faces -- Rachel Hale, left; Jeff Townsend and Jocelyn Sikorski. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

February 2, 2019 - 11:35am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia.

Press release:

matt.jpgFeb. 1, Batavia -- The City of Batavia Director of Public Works Matthew Worth was selected by the Genesee Valley Branch of the American Public Works Association (APWA) as the 2018 recipient of the Public Works Leader of the Year, in the Administrative Management Category. He received this award at the APWA Awards Banquet on Jan. 31st.

Worth began his career in public works in 1986 working for Genesee County in the Engineering department where he inspected bridges, roads and culverts. He started for the City of Batavia on March 23, 1987 in the Engineering department as an Engineer Technician until he became the Assistant Engineer. One of the first projects he worked on was the City’s wastewater treatment plant.

In July, 1988, initial construction of the new wastewater treatment facilities, which serve the City and a portion of the Town of Batavia, had begun. Worth helped oversee the new treatment facilities that were constructed to include nine lagoons and a series of three man-made wetlands on approximately 500 acres. This represents the largest use of multiple cell lagoons for municipal treatment in the New York Area.

In 1999, Worth left the Engineering department and became the Deputy Superintendent of Water and Wastewater and in 2002, he became the Superintendent of Water and Wastewater, where he would oversee all water and wastewater operations.

In 2015, he became the Director of Public Works. He is in charge of Bureau of Maintenance (Streets & Sidewalks), Bureau of Water and Wastewater (Water Plant and Sewer Plant), Bureau of Inspections (Code Enforcement) and Bureau of Engineering, with responsibility for approximately 50 employees.

In 2018, Worth became the Interim City Manager until the appointment of Martin D. Moore, Ph.D., by City Council.

City Manager Moore said, “Matt’s leadership has permitted his employees to reach their fullest potential. It’s obvious when you see the extraordinary pride displayed by the public works staff. His continual enthusiasm and interest to improve the level of service provided to Batavia residents is always his number one priority. By his commitment to the community and the organization, Matt has demonstrated himself to be a leader and a dedicated public servant and role model for all to follow. It is a pleasure to work with Matt, and I congratulate him on being honored with this award.”

City Council President, Eugene Jankowski Jr. said, “the Council is proud of Matt’s achievements over his many years of service to the City of Batavia. He has worked hard on behalf of our residents and we appreciate his dedication. He is very deserving of this award!”

This award is presented to association members for outstanding achievement in the area of administration within the public works department and to inspire excellence and dedication in the public sector by recognizing the outstanding career service achievements of administrative professionals.

November 8, 2018 - 8:41pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Genesee County Planning Board, city of batavia.

With only three referral items and little else on the agenda, the Genesee County Planning Board tonight needed only 11 minutes to conduct its business, with the most notable action pertaining to the City of Batavia’s recent sign code review.

County planners recommended approval, with modifications, of zoning text amendments to the City’s packet of sign regulations.

In September, the City Planning & Development Committee reviewed the sign code and recommended the following changes:

-- Expanded list of exempt signs, specifically allowing a greater use of directional signage;
-- Defined drive-thru menu board signs to better conform to typical uses;
-- Clarified some language that may have been subjective;
-- Expanded areas where electronic message boards may be used;
-- Expanded the types of appeals that may be considered by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

With the PDC and County Planning Board’s blessing, City Council now is charged with reviewing the suggested changes to the sign code, coming to a consensus on the matter, scheduling a public hearing and adopting a local law that would put any changes into law.

County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari, speaking after tonight’s meeting, said tackling sign codes is “tricky because you’re dealing with freedom of speech issues.”

“You can’t regulate content, but you can regulate (sign) placement, size and color,” he said. “If you have to read the sign to see if it is in regulation, then you’re regulating content.”

Oltramari then said content can be regulated when safety is involved – signs that read “danger” could present a hazard, for example – but that the government holds “content” to a higher standard.

“We try to steer communities away from regulating content,” he added.

As far as modifications are concerned, county planners are advising that City Council solicit its attorney’s opinion on whether “open and closed” signs or “hours of operation” signs could be considered content-based restrictions, and whether the ZBA is permitted to grant area variances for non-dimensional issues.

It is the County Planning Board’s view, stemming from talks with a NYS Department of State lawyer, that non-dimensional variances, such as lighting type, should be considered use variances and not area variances.

City Council adopted its current sign code in January 2017 through a local law that significantly changed the previous version. Since then, the City’s Inspection Bureau reported that numerous questions have come up as to interpretation and intent of the code, and requested a review and, if necessary, amendments to the code.

In other action, the planning board recommended approval of the Town of Byron’s updated Comprehensive Plan, acknowledging the extensive work of the town’s officials.

October 23, 2018 - 7:55pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, Freed Maxick.

A “conservative approach” to budgeting and spending enabled the City of Batavia to maintain a strong financial position for the 2017-18 fiscal year, according to the accountant who presented the municipality’s audit report at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

“The City has taken a conservative approach, especially with sales tax (projections) and a conservative approach to watching costs and monitoring those costs,” said Laura Landers, CPA, of Freed Maxick. “This has led to the excess (surplus) that we see in operations.”

Landers reported that the City’s general fund showed $16,014,615 in revenues versus $15,731,077 in expenditures for a surplus of $283,538 for the fiscal year that ended on March 31.

“Over the past 10 years, (when looking at) actual revenues versus budgeted revenues, the City has fared well,” she said. “And actual expenditures have been less than budgeted expenditures (as well).”

She noted that sales tax and VLT (Video Lottery Terminal) money from Batavia Downs Gaming “increased slightly” in 2017-18, with a spike in gas prices helping to boost sales tax revenue.

Landers said the City has $4.5 million in restricted funds – earmarked for insurance, capital projects, employee benefits, retirement, Dwyer Stadium – and $1.7 million in unassigned funds.

“Council can utilize the unassigned funds for unanticipated expenditures or to balance next year’s budget,” she explained. “It is a tool that you can use during the budget process. ‘Do we have projects?’ So, you don’t have to dip into reserves.”

The report also revealed $339,450 in “committed funds” for use on the City’s Master Plan, Ellicott Trail Project, Creek Park and (now dormant) Vibrant Batavia.

All told, the total fund balance for 2017-18 was at $7,388, 913.

Landers also reported that the water fund showed total assets of $10.2 million, with an $880,000 surplus – “which means that rates are at levels which have supported operations” – and that the sewer fund has $32.1 million in assets, including $8.8 million in cash.

Concluding, she said that, once again, the firm "did not note any material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in the operations of the City to report to City Council as a result of our audit procedures."

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 10, 2018 - 7:12am

Summary of the NYS Local Governments and School Accountability audit of the City of Batavia's Business Improvement District.

CLICK HERE for the complete report.

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to determine whether City officials properly accounted for and monitored the Business Improvement District’s (BID) financial operations for the period April 1, 2015 through September 14, 2017.

Background

The City of Batavia is located in Genesee County. The City has approximately 15,500 residents and is governed by an elected nine-member City Council. The Council created the BID in 1997. The BID is a geographic area in which a charge is imposed upon benefited properties for improvements, operation and maintenance costs and other services such as advertising and promoting BID activities. The district management association (DMA) is a not-for-profit entity governed by its own board of directors, which performs many District day-to-day management functions. The 2017-18 BID charge was $55,742.

Key Findings

  • The Council did not enter into a written agreement with the DMA or monitor the manner in which the DMA used BID funds.
  • City officials did not maintain adequate records to properly account for BID funds.
  • BID charges exceeded the statutory limit for 11 of the past 13 years by a total of approximately $464,000 or an average of $42,000 each year.

Key Recommendations

  • Enter into a written agreement with the DMA.
  • Monitor BID financial operations especially the manner in which the DMA uses BID funds.
  • Levy BID charges in compliance with the statutory limit.
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.

January 22, 2018 - 10:41am

The post-Jason Molino era for the City of Batavia gets under way tonight with City Council taking on a packed agenda that includes four budget resolutions requiring public hearings, the Redfield Parkway pillars, Healthy Schools sidewalk project, Habitat for Humanity’s proposal to build a home in the flood zone, leasing City Centre Mall space to Batavia Players and a Dwyer Stadium sub-lease with the New York-Penn League to operate the Batavia Muckdogs baseball team.

The Council’s Conference meeting, which is expected to be followed by a special business meeting to address the Dwyer Stadium issue, is scheduled for 7 o’clock at the City Centre Council Board Room.

Summaries of the planned discussions are as follows:

Budget resolutions with public hearings

Interim City Manager Matthew Worth is introducing resolutions that deal with the proposed budget ordinance, water rate changes, Business Improvement District plan and City Centre concourse user fee local law amendments. His proposal requests that these topics be acted upon at the Feb. 12 Business Meeting, with public hearings set for Feb. 26.

The 2018-19 budget calls for $5,249,947 to be raised by taxes, with previous reports indicating that the tax rate is expected to decrease by 3 percent – to $8.99 per $1,000 of assessed value. Total expenditures are $24.3 million (an increase of 1.9 percent).

Water rates will go up by 3.5 percent, with slightly higher increases in meter and capital improvement fees. There is no increase proposed for the sewer rate.

Since the BID plan has not been updated since 2005, the City proposes amendments that include a change in the district assessment charge to properly reflect operations, capital accounting for surplus funds, compliance with Open Meetings Law and Freedom of Information Law, and other budgetary compliance reporting.

The City Centre Concourse user fee proposal sets costs to Mall business owners at $2 per square foot, effective April 1, 2018 through March 31, 2021, and going up to $2.04 in 2021-22 and $2.06 in 2022-23.

Redfield Parkway pillars

City officials reached out to In Site: Architecture LLP, of Perry, to address the deteriorating condition of the pillars at the north entrance of Redfield Parkway.

The firm came back with a proposal to investigate the existing conditions, conduct design work as required related to lighting, preparation of bid documents, construction specifications, bidding coordination and construction administration at a cost of $4,860.

Council will be asked to appropriate the funds, contingent upon receiving a construction cost estimate prior to bidding the project.

Healthy Schools sidewalk project

Worth is reporting that Roman Construction Development Corp. of North Tonawanda has offered the low bid of $721,566 to complete construction of 12,300 linear feet of sideway in the City as part of the Healthy Schools Corridor Project.

Seventy-five percent of the project cost will be paid by the Federal Highway Administration and 25 percent will be paid from City sidewalk reserves and Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS), Worth said.

Habitat for Humanity’s proposal

Habitat for Humanity is looking to renovate and restore a home at 116 Swan St., property that was transferred by the City to the organization. However, this is the first property to be transferred that is in the 100-year flood zone, resulting in additional costs.

According to Lauren Casey, Habitat for Humanity executive director, the cost to demolish the existing structure and build a new home is $104,000, including $17,395 for engineering and architectural costs to design a flood-compliant home.

In a memo from Molino dated Jan. 11 (the day before his last day on the job), Council will be asked to cover the $17,395, utilizing some of the $48,000 remaining from the former Vibrant Batavia initiative. Molino said that the engineering/architectural information could be used for future new builds in the City.

Batavia Players lease

A lease agreement with Batavia Players Inc. to utilize three City Centre parcels for their productions calls for monthly rent charges of $747.92 for months one through six ($1 per square foot), $1,223.86 for months seven through 12 ($3 per square foot), and $2,991.66 for months 13 through 60 ($4 per square foot).

In a memo, Worth writes that relocation of the theater to the downtown area has been identified in the City’s 2012 Community Improvement Plan and 2017 Comprehensive Plan, and is under consideration in the City’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative application.

The lease agreement gives the City the right to terminate it upon 180 days’ notice and allows the City to sell the property as it sees fit.

Sublease of Dwyer Stadium to NY-P

With the Rochester Community Baseball organization (Rochester Red Wings) out of the picture, the New York-Penn League has assumed ownership of the Batavia Muckdogs.

According to Worth, the NY-P is agreeable to operating the team at Dwyer Stadium under the terms and conditions of the previous sublease to the Batavia Regional Recreation Corporation and Genesee County Baseball Club Inc. and declaration to the Rochester Community Baseball for the coming season.

Worth, in a memo dated Jan. 19, said that the league has been made aware of the proposed budget and funds that may be available for improvements and “have an understanding of these limitations.”

January 11, 2018 - 3:37pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, City Centre Mall.

An Erie County Supreme Court justice on Wednesday ruled in favor of the City of Batavia in a legal dispute with a Batavia orthodontist over the parking situation at his City Centre mall location.

“The City went before the judge (Catherine Nugent-Panepinto) with an order to show cause consistent with the settlement agreement between the City and the Mall Merchants Association, both parties were heard and the judge ‘so ordered’ the settlement agreement,” City Manager Jason Molino said today.

“This is the last piece of litigation for the City to take over operation of the mall on April 1.”

Dr. Marlin Salmon, owner of Salmon Orthodontics, brought the matter to court, seeking easement relief for parking spaces in proximity to his office.

A phone call to Dr. Salmon was not returned at the time of this story’s posting.

The settlement agreement calls for the city to retain ownership of the downtown facility's concourse, pay 100 percent of capital improvements, and take care of mall maintenance and operations.

January 9, 2018 - 10:34am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia.

molino_and_casey.jpg

Jason Molino and Lisa Casey at City Hall this morning.

Over a quarter century of work as an executive assistant, Lisa Casey has had the opportunity to evaluate the performance of organizational leaders.

In her opinion, Jason Molino, who is in his last week as Batavia’s city manager, has earned a high ranking.

“He’s a wonderful manager, through and through. I’ve worked for a lot of executives over the past 25 years and, by far, Jason is one of the best,” said Casey, the City’s confidential secretary and Molino’s assistant, following Monday night’s City Council meeting. “It is very hard to see him go, but I’m very happy for him.”

Molino begins his new job as Tompkins County administrator on Jan. 29. A farewell gathering (open to the public) is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday at T.F. Brown’s in Batavia.

Casey credited Molino for being a hard worker, “having a great heart” and possessing a memory that his served him well during his tenure in Batavia.

“He doesn’t ever forget; he remembers everything,” she said. “Even like from 10 years ago, he will pull out of his head a resolution that he did 10 years ago.”

She said that she will miss him and believes the community will, too.

“I know I’m going to miss him. I would like to think that Batavia is going to miss him as well. It’s going to be hard. It’s definitely a loss for Batavia,” she said. “I did not grow up here, but I know enough people who have said that so much has changed for the positive in this city.”

Casey said she is encouraged by Molino’s assertion that the right person will come along to take his place.

“It’s going to hurt us for a little bit, but as Jason has told me, he is very confident that we will find someone that will be just as good as him, if not better … which I don’t believe.”

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