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city of batavia

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.

January 11, 2021 - 12:01pm
posted by Press Release in fire hydrant flushing, city of batavia.

Press release:

The City of Batavia Fire Department will be flushing / testing fire hydrants on Tuesday, Jan. 12, from approximately 9 to 11 a.m. in the general area of north of Main Street and west of Oak Street.

Homes and businesses nearby will be affected.

These tests may result in a temporary discoloration of water in that area. As in the past, please do not attempt to wash any clothing if your water appears discolored. If you do experience a discoloration of your water, run cold water for about five minutes or until clear.

If you have any questions, or should notice a hydrant in need of repair, please contact the fire department at (585) 345-6375.

January 5, 2021 - 12:39pm
posted by Press Release in fire hydrant, city of batavia, news.

Press release:

The City of Batavia Water Department will be changing out a fire hydrant on Ellicott Street on Wednesday, Jan. 6.

The work will begin at 8 a.m. and water should be restored by 3 p.m.

Should weather or unforeseen issues delay the project the shutdown may occur on Thursday (Jan. 7) during the same hours. 

The water will be turned off for residents on: 

  • Ellicott Street between Ellicott Place and Harvester Avenue;
  • Harvester Avenue between Ellicott Street and Colorado Avenue;
  • Colorado Avenue and Ellicott Place.

This may cause discolored water, please refrain from doing laundry if water is discolored.

We appreciate your patience while we make these repairs.

Bill Davis

Superintendent of Water and Wastewater

City of Batavia

December 29, 2020 - 12:40pm
posted by Press Release in news, city of batavia.

Press release:

The City of Batavia is requesting proposals from qualified agencies to provide Afterschool Programming/Youth Services and Summer Recreation Program for eligible youth from the City of Batavia for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

To be considered, the City must receive the proposal in the City Manager’s Office by close of business Jan. 15.

Interested parties can find the RFP on the City's website using this link, or request a copy by contacting the Manager's Office at 345-6333.

Rachael Tabelski
Interim City Manager

December 21, 2020 - 5:41pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city of batavia, genesee county.

The federal government’s decision to not include funding for state and local governments in the latest stimulus package is disappointing, according to City of Batavia and Genesee County municipal officials.

“It is very disappointing, especially considering that our frontline workers – our police and fire personnel – have been dealing with COVID for many months and we could really use that money right now,” Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski said today.

On Sunday, Congressional leaders agreed to a $900 billion stimulus bill that, per a report in The Washington Post, will release a second stimulus check of up to $600 to qualifying adults and their dependent children -- but not dependent adults.

The package also extends a federal unemployment benefit check of $300 per week for another 11 weeks and the Payroll Protection Program to cover employee wages.

Democrats were unable to deliver direct funding to states and local governments, but they were successful in getting $22 billion to help municipalities with expenses such as COVID-19 testing and vaccines.

Tabelski said the city continues on its COVID-19 austerity budget this year, and isn’t planning on any revenues from the federal government as it embarks on its 2021-22 budget that takes effect on April 1. Staff is working on the spending plan now, she noted.

“We are projecting 20-percent cuts in state aid next year, and we’re still operating under that premise for this year,” she said.

She also said it is “concerning” that Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated he may put off drafting the state’s 2021-22 budget until February or March as he holds out hope for federal support.

“We are planning our budget and they are going to wait in Albany. Normally, the state puts out a (preliminary) budget in the first few weeks of January. It is another challenge we have to face, but we’ll get through it,” she said.

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said, “I’m definitely disappointed in the fact that no money is there for state and local governments, but I’m glad that there is was a package put together that benefits a large number of our citizens in other ways – with the stimulus checks, with extending unemployment benefits, with additional assistance for fighting COVID."

Landers said that since he had already budgeted for 20-percent less in state aid, “the lack of a relief for the state government should not have any further impact on us.”

“I budgeted very conservatively, assuming we wouldn’t get any relief and, so far, it looks like it was a good idea,” he added.

December 12, 2020 - 2:23pm

Press release:

The City of Batavia and the Batavia Police Department (BPD) are extending an online survey that is asking city residents to assist in formulating the department’s response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203, which requires police departments across New York State to submit reform plans to the state by April 1.

The online survey can be accessed here. The survey takes about five minutes to complete.

“We have approximately 500 completed surveys which is a good start, but we really want to double that number and in particular, we need more responses from our Black and minority residents and those in economically distressed neighborhoods, where there tends to be more engagement with the police,” said interim Batavia City Manager Rachael Tabelski.

“The Governor’s Executive Order is very specific in that our plan needs input from residents in neighborhoods where engagement with the police occurs is most common.”

At the Batavia Stakeholder Group on Dec. 10th, members discussed various ways to enhance outreach in these neighborhoods. For instance, the Batavia City School District committed to issuing a text alert urging parents and guardians of students to go online to fill out the survey. Other members will be pushing the survey link out through their various social media channels.

“The response from the stakeholder group members who represent and work with residents in these neighborhoods at our meeting where we made this request was tremendous,” said Batavia Police Department Chief Shawn Heubusch.

“It sparked a great dialogue as we work collaboratively to put a plan together that we all agree is just the start of our efforts in sustaining open communications with the community and the police now and in the future.”

December 8, 2020 - 5:27pm
posted by Press Release in news, city of batavia, Department of Public Works.

Press release:

Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski announced today the appointment of Raymond Tourt as the Director of the Department of Public Works.  

Tourt has served the City for 22 years in various capacities including Assistant City Engineer and currently as the Superintendent of Maintenance.

During his tenure, he has successfully completed multiple infrastructure projects to include over 10 federal aid projects, other responsibilities have been streets, sewers, parks, snow and fleet operations. He currently oversees 23 employees in the Bureau of Maintenance.  

As the Director of the City of Batavia Public Works, Tourt will oversee the Bureau of Water, Wastewater, Bureau of Maintenance, Bureau of Inspection and Bureau of Engineering.  

“I am excited to continue to work with Ray in his new role as the Director of Public Works," Tabelski said. "The City is undertaking numerous capital projects and his knowledge and leadership will ensure that these projects move forward to successful completion. He is a dedicated and knowledgeable member of the City staff and I know he will be well received in his new role."

Tourt will serve as Acting Director of Public Works for the next four weeks until the retirement of the current Director, Matt Worth, at which time he will be appointed provisionally. 

The City of Batavia encourages all citizens to welcome Tourt in the position of the Director of Public Works. Tourt lives in the Town of Batavia with his family.

December 1, 2020 - 2:22pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city of batavia, The Novak Consulting Group.

More than five months after the departure of Martin Moore, the professional job search firm that steered the former Eunice, N.M., city manager to Batavia has reached the national advertising stage in the process of finding his replacement.

An internet search revealed that the job vacancy notice, City Manager – City of Batavia, N.Y. – is on the website of the Pennsylvania Municipal League, and one can only assume that the advertisement (see below) has found its way across the United States. The notice sets a Dec. 30 deadline for candidates to submit their resumes.

It was crafted by The Novak Consulting Group of Cincinnati, Ohio, represented by Senior Manager Catherine Tuck Parrish, who is working with the local screening/search committee of Council members Patti Pacino and John Canale, Public Works Director Matt Worth and Human Resources Specialist Dawn Fairbanks.

City Council, on Aug. 13, 2018, hired Moore, who had been city manager in Eunice, N.M., for the previous seven years.

On June 20, 2020, it was announced that Moore and Council mutually agreed to part ways – setting the stage for Assistant City Manager Rachael Tabelski to take over the top spot on an interim basis until a permanent manager was found.

Moore’s leaving prior to serving two full years also triggered a provision in its contract with Novak to obtain a “free search” for his replacement. Nonetheless, there are costs involved this time around, including the expense of placing job vacancy notices.

Worth today said the committee spoke with Tuck Parrish to go over the details of the job description.

“We outlined some of the stuff for the advertising, and really, that is about as far as it has gotten,” Worth said, indicating that he plans to assist in the search beyond his retirement date of Jan. 15. “We reviewed what the position is – taking the previous advertisement and making some adjustments to it.”

Pacino said Tuck Parrish distributed material to each of the Council members to explain the process.

“She met with us via Zoom and we talked for quite a long time – we told her what we were looking for and all of that – and she said she would get in touch with all of the Council members to make sure they knew she was working on it,” Pacino said.

Emails from The Batavian to Tuck Parrish for comment have not been returned, but forwarded to city officials.

Canale also did not respond to an email or return a phone call.

Worth said he had no specifics regarding salary and that future meetings will be scheduled after receiving responses from the advertisement.

Tabelski has publicly stated that she intends to apply for the position.

The advertisement found on the PML website reads as follows:

Position Summary

The City of Batavia’s next City Manager will have the opportunity to join a hard-working and committed team of employees who deliver high-quality services, work with an energetic and engaged Council, and help the Council guide the City into its vision for the future.

Appointed by the City Council, the City Manager serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Finance for the City. The City Manager implements Council policies, provides organizational leadership for department directors and employees, and oversees the day-to-day business of government operations. In addition, the City Manager is responsible for monitoring and managing City funds and resources and develops a proposed annual budget for City Council consideration. The City Manager implements the City’s Strategic and Business Plans, which are adopted by City Council.

The City Manager has four direct reports: Director of Public Works, Assistant City Manager, Police Chief, and the Fire Chief.

Experience and Education

Minimum requirements include a bachelor’s degree and at least five (5) years of progressively responsible experience in a local government, including supervision/management.

Preferred qualifications include a master’s degree in public administration or a related field and experience in budget development and financial management, grants administration, labor relations, economic revitalization, intergovernmental relations, business and community engagement, strategic and business planning. An ICMA-CM is preferred but not required.

Residency within the City limits is required by Charter within a reasonable time after appointment.

Compensation

The salary depends on qualifications and includes an excellent benefits package.

How to Apply

Applications will be accepted electronically by The Novak Consulting Group at https://bit.ly/381Y0Cd. Applicants complete a brief online form and are prompted to provide a cover letter and resume. Open until filled with the first review of applications on December 30, 2020.

The job notice also can be found on the City of Batavia website.

November 30, 2020 - 12:22pm

The City of Batavia is taking a “fix it before it breaks” approach to upgrading the internet functionality at its facilities.

City Council, at its Dec. 14 Business Meeting, is expected to vote on a resolution to contract with an internet provider to equip the municipality with a secure, high-speed fiber connection.

Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski reported at last week’s Conference Meeting that she received nine proposals, including bids from local companies Empire Access, Spectrum and Marchese Computer Products (in tandem with another firm).

Tabelski, in a memo to Council dated Nov. 17, wrote that the current point-to-point/multi-point radio controlled wireless system that connects City facilities shows signs of aging (it is believed to be at least 12 years old) – and is beset by "sporadic internet connectivity and very slow connection speeds.”

She also emphasized that if a radio should malfunction completely, the cost to repair it could climb as high as $35,000.

Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said the City should “get ahead of it before it breaks down and we have to fix it.”

The resolution set to come before Council calls for the board to approve a long-term service agreement with the selected provider (to be determined). Originally, Tabelski planned for a capital cost not to exceed $25,000 to complete the internet fiber project.

In another development, Council forwarded a resolution to the Dec. 14 Business Meeting that grants the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation access to a small parcel of the Dwyer Stadium property at 267 Bank St. for environmental contamination cleanup in connection with remedial work at the Batavia Iron and Metal site next door, at 301 Bank St.

Previously, the DEC was given permission to access land at 299 Bank St., which also is part of the Dwyer Stadium property. Additional remedial work is scheduled for that parcel as well.

Tabelski, in a memo dated Nov. 16, wrote that the DEC expects minimal disturbance in the Dwyer Stadium parking area (267 Bank St.). She said the DEC plans to solicit bids for a contractor next spring and start work in the late summer or early fall.

City Attorney George Van Nest said that the city will be protected through insurance and access agreements with the chosen contractor.

A letter from the DEC to the city indicated that remedial activities generally will include “excavation and offset disposal of contaminated soils and sediment, soil sampling, backfilling excavations with clean soil, surveying and property restoration.”

The DEC is responsible for all expenses involved in the cleanup operation.

November 23, 2020 - 1:19pm

Having a role in the successful completion of a municipal project has provided a sense of satisfaction to City of Batavia Public Works Director Matt Worth, but it pales in comparison to his appreciation of and attachment to the people he worked with over the past 34 years.

“The people I have worked with I just can’t say enough about. I’m getting all choked up thinking about it, really,” Worth said during a telephone interview with The Batavian as he winds down a distinguished career with the city.

Worth’s official retirement date is Jan. 15, but his last day on the job – due to time earned – is Dec. 11.

His final City Council meeting is tonight’s Conference session at the City Centre Council Board Room, where he will receive a proclamation from lawmakers, honoring him for his dedicated service.

The 56-year-old lifelong resident of the Pembroke area said he has a special place in his heart for the people who believed in him and labored by his side.

“A lot of people gave me an opportunity or a chance, and I can’t thank them enough. I can name names, but I don’t want to leave anyone out,” he said.

Still, he first mentioned (the late) Dennis Larson, the former Public Works director who hired him back in March 1987 – “Dennis is someone I always thought the world of,” Worth said – and he thanked John Schaefer (former Water & Wastewater superintendent) and Len Walker (former Public Works director) for their expertise.

City Workers a Close-Knit Group

When it comes to his coworkers, Worth said they were like family.

“Those guys were special. When there was a water main break in the middle of the night and you’re out there in the freezing cold, you counted on each other to be there for each other,” he said. “Jim Ficarella and Bill Davis (retired and current Water & Wastewater superintendents, respectively), and the crews. There’s a sense of camaraderie and friendship and professionalism that I will always treasure.”

Worth began his career with the city – following a short stint with the Genesee County Highway Department – as an engineering technician and was promoted to deputy superintendent of water/wastewater in 1999. He took over as superintendent of that department three years later.

In July 2015, he was appointed Public Works director. The promotion put him in charge of the 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.

During his tenure, he has been involved in numerous public works projects, including street reconstruction, water and sewer plant upgrades, and capital infrastructure planning.

“The projects that we’ve done over the years are the things that I’ve really craved,” he offered. “A project gets done and there’s a tangible change that happened – something that you can really see … the road got plowed, the road got paved, a new water line got put in, whatever that may be.”

Keeping a Low Profile is Just Fine

He said he understands how important public works are to residents and doesn’t mind flying under the radar.

“If we’re doing it right, the people don’t notice you’re doing it. There’s a certain satisfaction in that,” he said.

“When the kids come through on tours of things, we tell them that Public Works is the department that you touch and feel every day. You’re using the streets, you’re walking on the sidewalks, you’re using the water, you’re flushing the toilet. That interaction is very real with the services that Public Works provides compared to fire and police and other big departments that really you don’t have to interact with them, even though they’re a higher profile profession.”

In January 2018, Worth took over as interim city manager after the departure of Jason Molino and served in that role for about 10 months.

“That year of me being upstairs as the interim city manager, I really missed DPW,” he said. “The city manager position is more of a higher-level planning, with stuff more in the future and not readily tangible, so that’s why I was quite ready to get back to Public Works.”

He did such a fine job as interim city manager that he was selected by the Genesee Valley Branch of the American Public Works Association as the 2018 recipient of the Public Works Leader of the Year in the Administrative Management Category.

Worth said he had plenty of support during that time.

“I was very fortunate that I had really good people (department heads) when I was upstairs here – Ray Tourt (Department of Maintenance), Jim Ficarella, the two superintendents – they really ran the Public Works department for those 10 months, and did a really good job as there were projects still going on,” he said. “A lot of people pulled together, understanding that there was a vacuum and we all needed to help each other to get through it.”

Looking Back at Specific Projects

When asked about specific projects that stand out, Worth mentioned the new sewer plant construction, a $45 million venture that took place during his first year with the city.

“Being a young kid who doesn’t know a darn thing and walking into a huge project like that, I got exposed to so many different aspects of construction and large-scale projects,” he said. “What an opportunity to observe that and learn from that. That was on the very front end, but that sticks in my mind.”

He also said mentioned the Main Street reconstruction in 2003 and 2004 – “the road was in such bad shape,” he noted – and talked about some of the benefits of the smaller, residential street projects.

“You got to meet the people who lived there and you built relationships with them,” he said. “I remember some older people who lived on the street – by the end of the summer they were giving me canned tomatoes and offered to pray for you at night. That was a fun aspect of working in a municipality. You get to meet the people.”

As far as unfinished business, Worth remembers his first day on the job, performing survey work on Oak Street to prepare for a new street, Cecere Drive.

“It was a small subdivision with a few houses to be built there, but there ended up being a conflict over some property deeds or something, and that project never happened. That one never made it to the finish line.”

Hope Ahead for the City Centre Mall?

Worth acknowledged some “missed opportunities” in regard to building a new police station, but is pleased to see that it finally is on track.

“We always were going to do something, but something would come up and it got put off. The police need a new headquarters. The old City Hall (former Brisbane Mansion) is about 200 years old and trying to function as a police station.”

He said he is optimistic that a solution to the City Centre Mall dilemma is near. He called the initial concept of the Genesee Country Mall a mistake, “having all of these individual ownerships with this common hallway in the middle of it.”

“I was involved in that on several different levels over the years. I think frustration would be the word here, but I think moving forward there are opportunities that will be very positive – considering the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) redevelopment work.”

When it was mentioned that at least the roof has been repaired, Worth said the last section is scheduled to be done in the coming year … “and then all the buckets go away, right?”

Council President: He’s Going to be Missed

City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said Worth deserves to enjoy his retirement, admitting “we’re going to miss him tremendously.”

“He’s done a lot of work; he’s involved in a lot of the projects. He stepped up even as assistant city manager for a time and was able to lead the ship for a couple months while we got things squared away so, he’s going to be missed for sure,” he said.

Jankowski said he is sure Worth has imparted his knowledge to put the city in position to promote his replacement from within.

“Hopefully, we’ve done our job and there are people in place to take over, but I know that Matt is that kind of guy -- a teacher and a mentor to a lot of the employees that he works with. So, I’m sure there will be somebody qualified to take the reins,” he said.

Tourt, a city employee for nearly 22 years, started out in the Engineering Bureau, working with Worth.

“They’re really going to miss him and they don’t realize how much yet. He’s been a real good boss and he’s been a great mentor and he’s been a good friend. He has really looked out for the operations of the city and always put the city first,” he said.

Worth said he intends to find another job, but is not sure of the line of work.

“I’m hoping to find somebody that has a need for an old, washed-up Public Works director, I guess,” he said, downplaying his experience. “I’m leaning toward something local. I really do enjoy living here and have lived here all my life.”

He also said that he and his wife, Joan, will have more time with the family – their grown children, Adam and Kathryn, and two grandchildren, ages 1 and 3 – and continue to enjoy their walks at the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge.

“It’s a chance to give the dog some exercise,” he said.

November 20, 2020 - 4:19pm
posted by Press Release in news, city of batavia, city council.

Press release:

Please be advised there will be a City Council Conference Meeting scheduled for Monday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Council Board Room on the second floor of the Batavia City Centre. This meeting is open to the public. Face masks and social distancing will be required

Options for viewing the meeting:

  • Video News Service YouTube Channel and City’s Facebook (later in the evening):
  • Spectrum Cable TV Channel 1301 – Wednesday, Nov. 25th at 9 a.m. and Friday, Nov. 27th at 8 p.m.

The agenda is posted on the City website.

November 14, 2020 - 2:03pm
posted by Press Release in fire, news, city of batavia, weather emergencies, preparedness.

From City of Batavia Fire Department:

Weather emergencies can strike often times without warning and inhibiting our ability to secure basic necessities. Rescue and response agencies will be responding but may not be able to assist immediately depending upon the severity of the event.

As a result, the City of Batavia along with the Department of Public Works, Fire and Police departments would like to remind all City residents to take the necessary precautions and preparedness steps to be ready in the event of an emergency situation.

In the event that there is a loss of power, practice energy conservation to help the power company avoid rolling blackouts.

  • Keep your car’s fuel tank at least half full as gas stations use electricity to operate the fuel pumps.
  • Ensure that you know how to manually release your electric garage door opener.
  • Always use a surge protector to protect your computer and other electronic devices from an energy surge.
  • Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer doors as food will remain fresh for up to several hours after the power goes off.
  • Lastly, if the power outage is expected to last for several days or more, consider relocating to a shelter or a friend or family member’s home if possible.

In the event that you plan to use a portable generator, be sure that you operate it outside only. Do not operate the generator within the home or garage and do not hook it up directly to your home’s wiring. Instead, connect the equipment and appliances that you wish to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

We also recommend that you have the following items available: Fully charge cell phone with a spare power block, battery-powered radio, flashlight with spare batteries, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, blankets and sleeping bags, personal toiletry and first-aid kits.

Lastly, having a family emergency plan along with an emergency supply kit will assist you in managing many different types of weather-based emergencies.

Additional information on specific types of emergencies can be found on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Red Cross websites as well as on their apps for smart phones.

As always, you can contact the City of Batavia Fire Headquarters for any questions that you may have at (585) 345-6375.

November 10, 2020 - 6:22am

youth_board_.jpg

If City Council Member John Canale has his way, there is no way Batavia’s youth programming will be cut.

Canale, attempting to allay the concerns of City Youth Board representatives David Twichell and Paula Fischer, said he sees the city’s youth program as “an invaluable gem” and said he would do everything in his power to continue or expand offerings to its young residents.

Speaking at Monday night’s City Council Business Meeting at the City Centre Council Board Room, Canale responded to public comments by Twichell, Fischer and Fischer’s son, Andrew, who are troubled about a proposal to contract with the Genesee Area Family YMCA for city youth services.

Currently, the city has a contract with Genesee County to partially a fund a youth bureau executive director, Jocelyn Sikorski, but a resolution – currently placed on hold by the County Legislature – would dissolve that agreement and compel City Council to devise a new plan for youth services.

“Much like Paula, (who) spoke about the youth programs in the city, I grew up every day of my life as a kid at MacArthur Park on Monday through Friday, all day there except for lunch because when I was a kid, they didn’t provide lunch,” Canale said. “The youth bureau is an invaluable gem that we have here in the city, and I have no intention of decreasing the services the bureau offers.”

Canale said the cost to run the youth programs in the city “is miniscule in the whole budget picture.”

“So, I can assure anybody that is here tonight that is concerned about Council doing away with the youth bureau or doing away with the services that we provide our local youth, I can guarantee if any of my Council colleagues brought that up, I would definitely be dead set against it,” he said. “And I don’t think there is anybody here tonight that is against that.”

He then warned people about reacting solely from what they read on social media as well as The Batavian and another local news outlet.

“Don’t believe everything that you read, number one, and try not to formulate your opinion as to what the City Council’s actions are going to be based upon what you're reading on social media,” he offered.

Canale: No Discussion about Cutting Services

Canale said he didn’t recall any discussion pertaining to doing away with the youth bureau or cutting any services.

“Correct me if I’m wrong. Maybe I misunderstood or missed something, Rachael,” he said, looking at Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski. “Did Jocelyn not come to us as a county employee contracted with the city to share services? Did she not come to us and request that we cut that contract out?”

Tabelski replied, “That is correct.”

Canale responded that “for some reason, it seems like the public is under the impression that we in the city want to cut that out.”

“And the county manager (Matt Landers) also made public comment that I read that they were going to kind of leave it in our lap first to see what move we made first. I want the public to realize that this was the county that came to the city … and requested that maybe we could discontinue that contract.”

Canale said no decision has been made on the status of the contract with the county, stating that it is at the discussion stage.

“We’re looking at all possibilities and Rachael is looking into other possibilities as well as she approached the YMCA to see what they might be able to do to offer as good of services, if not better services,” he said.

He then aimed his remarks at Twichell and Fischer.

Advisory Board will be Involved

“For whatever reasons, the (Youth) board has not been in the communication circle yet, but I would only assume that at some point when the decisions are going to be made, that we would go to our advisory board and say that these are some of our thoughts (and) what do you guys think?” he said.

Canale urged people to not have a “knee-jerk reaction” to the situation based on social media or news accounts.

“This is all still in the talking stages. Nothing has happened. No programs have been cut,” he said.

The city’s youth center – the Liberty Center for Youth on City Church’s St. Anthony’s campus on Liberty Street – has been closed due to COVID-19 and because the city doesn’t have any youth services employees at this time.

“Maybe, like (Council Member) Rose Mary (Christian) said, 'maybe it’s time to look at that,' ” Canale said. “I don’t know. That should be part of the discussion as well. As things start to open up, we could look at that. Or now, obviously on the rise again with COVID, maybe this isn’t a good time to look at that, I don’t know.”

Youth Programming: More than Meets the Eye

Fischer, a member of the City of Batavia Youth Board for 10 years, said she has “fond memories” of the city parks’ program having attended Kibbe and Pringle parks. She is the director of school-based health programs for the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine.

She said she has volunteered during city youth events, providing oral health education and giving out hundreds of toothbrushes and toothpaste to kids and families. She called Batavia a great place to raise a family due, in part, to the services it offers to its young people.

Fischer emphasized that the youth bureau “is more than just the summer rec program -- although the rec program is well-known, serving hundreds of children every summer, providing safe, fun and educational programming – including lunch, which is a big help to many families.”

She mentioned several other events and programs under the city youth bureau, including:

  • The community garden;
  • National Night Out in conjunction with the city police;
  • The Liberty Center for Youth with services provided in conjunction with the YMCA;
  • Programs run by City Church at the St. Anthony’s campus;
  • A partnership with the Batavia City School District for busing to the youth center;
  • Summer safe carnival open to the community;
  • Youth and volunteer awards banquet at Terry Hills Restaurant;
  • A partnership with the Arc of Genesee Orleans for Saturday programs;
  • Visitation at nursing homes and the Senior Center;
  • Open gym nights and grants for summer recreation tennis programs.

“All of these programs provide a sense of pride in the community to the city residents,” she said.

Fischer said she was asking City Council to work with the advisory board to address budgetary issues and “come together to see if there’s a way we can be mindful of the city budget without decimating youth services.”

“A reduced level of service may be appropriate at this time with time to rebuild in the future,” she said.

Youth Board is ‘Open, Willing to Cooperate’

Twichell, the City Youth Board president, extended an invitation to all City Council members “that we are open and we are willing to cooperate with the city, and we are willing as an advisory board to help guide the process.”

“We know … with these COVID restrictions and the tough economic times we’re facing, we know the city is facing great challenges,” he said. “But there are times when we feel that there is somewhat of a disconnect between the board and the City Council.

"I’m here tonight to open and maybe knock down some of those barriers, and tomorrow I will be putting together an email for each and every one of you that will list all of our contact information.”

He then urged Council members to reach out to the advisory board if they have any questions about youth services.

Fischer’s son, Andrew, a former youth board vice president, said he worked for the summer rec program for five years during his summer breaks from Canisius College, where he earned an MBA in Accounting.

“A lot of our youth programs, specifically summer rec, are great ways for youth in our community to interact with one another and interact with the rec leaders,” he said. “It instilled in me a sense of leadership and a sense of empathy toward some of the kids, who obviously were from tougher situations.”

He said it didn’t “sit right” with him when he heard about youth services possibly changing, and noted that he looked at past city budgets on the website and saw that the summer recreation came in below budget last year.

McGinnis Objects to Sending Letter

Prior to Canale’s comments, Council Member Al McGinnis, the city’s liaison to the youth board, said he didn’t get a copy of a letter sent by the youth board to the media last week – a letter that objected to the resolution to terminate the city/county agreement and expressed the viewpoint that contracting with the YMCA instead was a done deal. (Fischer said that McGinnis and the other Council members did receive the letter).

“If you’re an elected or public official and you’re on a board, it is incumbent upon you to make sure that everyone on the board, whether they agree or disagree, knows that correspondence is going out to the public,” McGinnis said. “If not, the public gets confused when they hear two different sets of a thing. When you do it unilaterally, and basically conduct a rogue operation, without informing everyone, it looks bad for everyone concerned.”

He added, “At the time, the board members could have spoken to us at the meeting and said 'here are our points of view – we’d like to make sure that this is heard by the public.' No one is going to censure or stop a report … We owe it to the public to speak with a unified voice, or at least if it’s not unified, everyone gets a chance to say their piece.”

Christian asked how many kids attend the youth center on Liberty Street and if the city had any youth bureau employees at the center.

Tabelski said attendance ranged between 30 and 50 – “sometimes as low as five” – and that the city had no youth program employees, other than Sikorski, who directs city, Genesee and Orleans county youth activities.

“I look down the street and I see tons of kids out there,” Christian said, referring to the Liberty Center for Youth. She also asked about costs should the YMCA get involved.

Tabelski said that, pre-COVID-19, the city and the YMCA each supplied three or four staff members at the center, depending upon the number of children there, and that the YMCA did not charge the city for those employees,

She also mentioned that the city’s program coordinator, Lydia Schauf, recently took another job with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

Could Youth Center Have Stayed Open?

Christian then questioned why the center has been closed for so long while school is in session.

“It was supposed to be because of COVID," she said. "I see people at Walmart, I see people downtown. I see them at the grocery store, I see people here. I see people everywhere in the city. Those kids could wear a mask like anyone else in the city and they, I’m quite sure, would stop anyone from coming in without a mask.

"And I’m quite sure they would be disinfecting that facility for the kids over there. And they’re playing basketball on Tuesday nights and I haven’t heard of a soul from that center who has COVID.”

After Tabelski explained that the city was unable to hire part-timers (due to a hiring freeze) and, as a result, she contacted YMCA leadership to see if that organization could provide youth services in an attempt to cut costs and “also provide the same level of service.”

“I engaged in a discussion with the YMCA if they could staff the center and until we come to any preliminary contract terms, you’ll have nothing (in the form of a resolution) in front of you,” Tabelski said. “At such point, you would have a presentation by the YMCA on the programming that they can provide for us that is the same or better than what we’re providing today at a lower cost to the residents.”

Christian’s response indicated that she wasn’t buying that explanation.

“Yeah, it was mentioned on The Batavian that we have to think of the taxpayers,” she said. “We sure as hell don’t think about the taxpayers when it comes to lights for Ellicott Street over there for the trail, especially when at 4:30 at night it’s going to be dark in the winter time and the summer time around 9 o’clock. We don’t think about salary increases either, now do we?”

At that point, Paul Viele, who was presiding over the meeting in place of City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr., who was out of town, cut Christian off.

Tabelski: Let’s Give it Another Try

Minutes later, Tabelski directed her comments to Twichell and Fischer, stating that she came to them during an Oct. 27 meeting in “good faith with ideas on our situation and our strategy.”

“And when you attended the meeting, you sat there, you listened to what I had to say, you listened to my ideas, we had great dialogue. And I am willing to continue that dialogue with you. But I prefer we did it in a committee setting and not go around the committee setting with emails and letters outside of the people on that committee and to the media, so we can really achieve something,” she said.

Tabelski credited the youth board for its commitment to the cause, but said “we have to think differently about this.”

“I am willing to come back and sit with you guys. And this time at the meeting, please speak up because when I left that (previous) meeting, everyone was in agreement to the strategy that I was going to look into and bring to Council.”

After she finished, Fischer attempted to present a “rebuttal,” but was told that she was not allowed to do that. 

“Then I will give my rebuttal to the media and you can read it there,” Fischer said.

Following the meeting, Fischer repeated the youth board’s claim that Tabelski had indicated to them that the decision to dissolve the city/county contract had already been made, and that Sikorski had obtained a grant to direct a Safe Harbor program and “wrote herself into that and changed her job description.”

Fischer also said there is someone who was employed by the city at the youth center who is willing to return to work there.

“When Lydia resigned, they didn’t feel like they had to go back and readdress this,” Fischer said. “They said, ‘OK, great, everybody is gone, and now we can really go and outsource youth services.' ”

She said the youth board is “leery about that.”

“They outsourced the county youth director, and look where we are,” she said. “And I don’t think we’re going to have the same quality of services – and it was our feeling that we had to let the community know.”

Photo: City Youth Board members David Twichell and Paula Fischer speaking to the media following Monday night's City Council meeting. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

November 9, 2020 - 2:42pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, news, city of batavia.

Press release:

Effective today, Monday Nov. 9, all City facilities and meeting rooms will be closed to the public in light of increased in COVID-19 positive cases in Genesee County.  

Facilities that will remain open for public business include the following:

  • City Clerk’s Office
  • DPW Administration/ Inspection Bureau 
  • Yard Waste Station

At this time, City Council meetings, Planning & Development Committee meetings and Zoning Board of Appeals meetings will remain as in-person meetings held in the Council Chamber with minimal City staff attending. The meeting will remain open to the media and public.

Anyone attending the meeting will be subject to enhanced screening protocol.

  • The City Fire Department will screen all persons entering the facility.  
  • Screening will be conducted on the second floor of City Hall in the Community Room.
  • Anyone who does not pass the temperature and symptom screening, or refuses to screen will not be allowed to enter the Council Chamber. 
  • All members of the public, and the media, need to remain masked at all times. 
  • Enhanced cleaning will continue to take place. 

Thank you for your continued support and cooperation as we all work together to keep Batavia safe.

November 5, 2020 - 3:45pm

Although Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski believes the Genesee Area Family YMCA could play a significant role in the future of youth services in Batavia -- enabling the city to cut ties with Genesee County to fund a youth bureau executive director, an advisory group linked to the city isn’t convinced that is the best way to proceed.

A resolution to terminate the county’s youth bureau operating agreement with the city, a contract that calls for partial payment of the salary of Jocelyn Sikorski, Genesee/Orleans and City Youth Bureau executive director, came before two Genesee County Legislature committees this week.

On Monday, the Human Services Committee approved the measure, sending it to the Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday for a final vote before being forwarded to the full legislature for ratification.

Ways & Means decided to table the resolution, however, minutes after a letter from the City Youth Board opposing the dissolution of the inter-municipal agreement found its way onto The Batavian and, likely, into the hands of Ways & Means Committee Chair Marianne Clattenburg.

No one on the committee would comment when asked why the resolution was being tabled, but it is clear that the Youth Board’s opposition as well as the committee’s desire to let the city make the first move are the major reasons.

As a result:

  • The county is stuck in a holding pattern as the city leaders work through their differences. All indications point to a public discussion in some form or another at the City Council Business Meeting at 7 p.m. next Monday.
  • Tabelski is saying that there was no indication of any disagreement from the Youth Board with her proposal for the city to go in a different direction – looking at the YMCA to provide youth services -- and cut the $20,000 annual expense to help fund the executive director’s position.
  • The City Youth Board, in its letter, contends that it was not afforded an opportunity “to discuss alternative options with the Interim City Manager … prior to her decision.”

County Manager Matt Landers said he is dismayed over the situation.

“With any board or organization that dedicates so much time toward improving the community, it is obviously not a good thing to read the dissatisfaction and unhappiness of such a board,” he said. “As far as the county’s perspective, we’re a partner with the city and we certainly want to assist the city in meeting their needs with the youth. But at this point in time, it is important that we let the city decide how they want to move forward and then we can react accordingly.”

Landers said he and the legislature agree that the city should take the lead in this matter.

“We kind of put it in their hands … instead of the county going out in front and dissolving a contract. If it’s something the city really wants to do, then that’s something that they can lead out with first.”

He also said that it could be the right time to assess the agreement and explore other options.

Landers: Time for Reevaluation?

“At the end of the day, the relationship that we had with the city for a youth director was a good idea – and it was something put in place before my time as county manager, but it was a way to share services,” he said. “With any kind of agreement, you evaluate and see if there’s a different way to do it.”

Tabelski said she articulated a “different way” during an Oct. 27 meeting with the Youth Board, whose members are Dave Twichell, president; Paula Fischer, Nick Russo, Kathryn Fitzpatrick and Kristen Gloskowski. Al McGinnis serves as the City Council liaison.

“I had the pleasure of meeting with the Youth Board to talk about the situation the city finds itself in regarding budgeting amid COVID in our current budget year, the programming that we weren’t able to perform over the summer – summer recreation – and the strategic hiring freeze at the city,” Tabelski said. “We talked about what the upcoming budget for the city was shaping up to be, which is early in the budget process.”

Tabelski said she outlined big ticket items for which the city is responsible, such as snowplowing, public works, leaf collection, yard waste services, and police and fire response, and other services such as youth programs, economic development, contracting for the operation of the Falleti Ice Arena and maintaining athletic fields (including Dwyer Stadium) for residents to utilize.

“While Council won’t look at the budget until January, right now department heads are working with vendors on pricing and setting up contracts for services with the goal of providing a budget to City Council that remains within the tax cap,” she advised. “We are fiscally responsible to the citizens of the City of Batavia while still providing services that we know residents demand from the city.”

She said financial constraints and the impact of COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 summer recreation program and the ongoing closure of the Liberty Center for Youth afterschool location on Liberty Street.

Unable to Reopen Youth Center Yet

“The ability to reopen the Liberty Center for Youth is still taking time to make sure protocols are in place, barriers put up and bringing back staff. So right now, the YMCA and the city share staffing requirements for the Liberty Center for Youth to open,” she said.

Since the city has not been able to hire part-time employees (due to the hiring freeze), a discussion with the county ensued, leading to a proposal to terminate the joint agreement for youth bureau supervision.

“Knowing what our budget looks like for next year, I said that we were willing to look at that and the goal was to have the program coordinator and the assistant city manager, which is myself, take on any responsibilities needed to get the youth programs up and running, and to continue,” Tabelski said.

Currently, the city is in the midst of a job search for a permanent manager – Tabelski was hired last year as the assistant manager – and also has no youth program coordinator as Lydia Schauf resigned that position to accept another job.

“We were left basically with the commitment from the Y to help reopen the center but with no employees available to staff it,” she said.

Tabelski said she explained this to the Youth Board, emphasizing that it “was time to look at it to understand what the city might be able to do in an effort to save money and deliver the programs at the same level to the residents and potentially use the YMCA as part of the strategy that I am looking into.”

Tabelski Promotes Pact with YMCA

She said she has a high regard for the YMCA, calling it a “professional organization that has an expertise in providing recreational services in our community.”

“In my mind, it makes sense for us to look at this as a broader partnership,” she said, noting that she has kept City Council informed of her activities in relation to youth services. “This could be a huge win for the YMCA and the city.”

Tabelski said she is negotiating with the YMCA to gauge its “capacity and ability” to provide afterschool and summer recreation services for the city’s youth, and added that other communities, including Perry and Geneseo, contract with the YMCA to provide their summer programming.

She said she left the door open for City Youth Board members to contact her, Sikorski or McGinnis but, to her knowledge, that has not been done. She also said that she was not informed that a letter would be released to the media.

“At the meeting, the youth board members indicated they understood the financial hardship that the city was in, they gave examples of their workplaces having to cut and lay off people, and they indicated a willingness to continue to be involved in youth programming and services and make sure those programs continue,” Tabelski said.

The interim city manager is hopeful the city would be able to enhance its youth services by contracting with the YMCA. She also defended her stance.

“I think it is incumbent upon a good manager to look at every piece of the organization and especially when we’re faced with challenges such as COVID and employee shifting,” she said. “I guess it was a perfect storm to examine how we deliver this service and see if there was an agency, such as the YMCA, that would be more capable, have more capacity and more resources to actually deliver the program and possibly enhance that program on behalf of the city.”

Tabelski said the goal is to continue to provide youth services at no or at a minimal charge – especially for summer recreation – and is convinced there are “multiple ways that can be negotiated to do that.”

“Right now, we have a contract with City Church for the St. Anthony’s building for the Liberty Center for Youth that runs another four years,” she said. “I think that as we do some long-term planning, we certainly want to look at the interaction between the current site for afterschool and what potential there might be for the (YMCA) Healthy Living campus (one of the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative projects).”

Youth Board Reacts to 'Done Deal'

Fischer, responding this afternoon to emailed questions after talking with Twichell, said the City Youth Board’s intention was to send the letter with their concerns to City Council, but when The Batavian ran a story from the Human Services Committee meeting, it felt it was necessary to inform the public of what seemed to be a certainty.

“Once the information from the October 27th meeting was digested, it was apparent that the proposed changes to youth services would affect the quality of youth programming,” she said. “Many of the comments made by Rachel Tabelski and Jocelyn Sikorski were concerning. Ms. Tabelski was not aware of the differences between the County Youth Services and the City Youth Services. The City Youth Bureau provides direct youth programming and the County Youth Bureau does not.

“Despite the resignation of the only full-time city youth bureau employee, Ms. Sikorski was still in favor of abandoning the city program with no experienced staff remaining by ending the contract between the City and County with a year remaining. Also, Ms. Tabelski’s comment in the article, 'The city’s goal is to continue its youth programming – Liberty Center for Youth at the City Church St. Anthony’s campus on Liberty Street and the Summer Recreation Program – to the extent we that we can' was also alarming."

Fischer said the youth board did not contact Tabelski or Sikorski before sending the letter since the board is appointed by City Council and that Tabelski and Sikorski are employees and not voting members of the board.

As far as the Oct. 27 meeting is concerned, Fischer’s position is that Tabelski did receive comments from the board “regarding the outsourcing and charging for youth programming.”

“It was apparent that Ms. Sikorski had already went to the legislature and City Council with the proposal and was presented as a done deal,” she said. “When asked who would run the youth programming, the interim city manager shrugged her shoulders and said the assistant city manager, and the board asked who that would be and she said ‘me’. So, it was apparent that this was not well thought out after the resignation of the youth bureau coordinator. This sent up red flags that the youth programming was being phased out.”

The City Youth Board also does not agree with Tabelski’s plan to contract with the YMCA.

“The Board feels this would not be in the best interest of city youth,” Fischer said, adding that youth board members should be brought into the decision-making process.

“We are an advisory board. I would hope City Council would engage the City Youth Board on all matters going forward during these trying times,” she said. “The board would like to see services at the Liberty Center for Youth and the Summer Recreation Program resume once it is safe. These valuable services are less than 1 percent of the city’s budget.”

November 4, 2020 - 4:23pm

Update: 9:15 p.m.

The Genesee County Legislature's Ways & Means Committee this afternoon tabled the resolution to terminate the county's youth bureau operating agreement with the City of Batavia.

When asked the reasoning behind the action, both Legislator Gary Maha and Legislator Chair Rochelle Stein declined to comment.

Contacted tonight, Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski said that City Council plans to address a similar resolution at its Nov. 23 Conference Meeting, but speculated that the situation may come up at next Monday's Business Meeting.

"At this point, City Council and I are considering cost-saving measures in all departments while still trying to maintain the level of services that our residents, including our youth, deserve," Tabelski said.

Previously, Tabelski reported that the city would save $20,000 in salary expenses (for Youth Bureau Executive Director Jocelyn Sikorski) by ending the youth bureau agreement with the county.

While unable to confirm, it is believed the following letter also was obtained by Ways & Means Committee members prior to their decision to table the resolution.

Posted by Mike Pettinella.

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

An Open Letter to City Council on Behalf of the City of Batavia Youth Board

The City of Batavia Youth Board serves in an advisory capacity regarding youth services for the City of Batavia. At the Oct. 27 board meeting the Interim City Manager (Rachael Tabelski) was present to inform the board of the changes occurring to youth services in the City of Batavia.

Currently, the resignation of the program coordinator, the layoffs of Liberty Center staff, and the request from the current Director Jocelyn Sikorski* to end her contracted services with the City of Batavia would result in zero staff for City of Batavia Youth services.

The Youth Board is not in favor of the dissolution of the intermunicipal contract with Genesee County regarding the Youth Director position. This would be detrimental to youth services for the City of Batavia.

Although the board understands the financial concerns of the City of Batavia, the youth services budget amounts to roughly 1 percent of the City of Batavia budget. The board would have appreciated an opportunity to discuss alternative options with the Interim City Manager, but was not afforded that opportunity prior to her decision.

Due to the hiring freeze which has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic and budget shortfalls, the Youth Board feels it is in the best interest of the City Youth programs to retain Ms. Sikorski until the end of the contract to rebuild the youth programming once it is safe to reopen the Liberty Center for Youth and resume the Summer Recreation Program provided by the City of Batavia.

The board does not feel the same level of services can be achieved by outsourcing these programs, which was suggested by the Interim City Manager or charging for these services.

The Youth Board feels an obligation to inform the community of the changes that are being proposed for youth services. Youth programming in the future, including the Summer Recreation Program, will look much different. Please consider contacting your council member regarding these changes.

Sincerely,

City of Batavia Youth Board Members,

Dave Twichell, President

Paula Fischer

Nick Russo

Kathryn Fitzpatrick

Kristen Gloskowski

********************************************

*Jocelyn Sikorski currently serves as executive director of the Genesee/Orleans County Youth Bureau and City of Batavia Youth Bureau.

Previously: County's termination of youth bureau agreement to save the City of Batavia $20K next year

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