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genesee county

July 21, 2021 - 6:48pm

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers has yet to hear from government officials in the towns of Darien and Pembroke and Village of Corfu on whether they will be opting in to an updated countywide water supply agreement. But he is sticking to his timeline to enact a new sales tax distribution plan to all municipalities.

Landers, at this afternoon’s Genesee County Legislature Ways & Means Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse, presented a resolution that immediately (when passed by the full legislature) rescinds the county’s annual voluntary distribution payments. It also directs the county treasurer to discontinue all future such payments until further notice.

The measure passed and will be forwarded to the legislature’s next meeting, which is set for July 28.

Landers said the county made the first six monthly distribution payments this year but is changing course going forward – offering municipalities (with a deadline of Aug. 13), the following options:

  • With universal buy-in to revised water supply agreements, accept $10 million annually over the next 38 years, with the amounts per town or village determined by the total assessed property valuation;
  • Without universal buy-in, accept $7 million in annual sales tax distributions and another $3 million in periodic revenue distribution over the next 38 years, minus equalization of water surcharge revenue to those municipalities not opting in.

Currently, Darien, Pembroke and Corfu have not signed the water agreements, although their town and village boards have scheduled meetings over the next couple weeks.

“The towns and villages are aware of this resolution (to rescind the agreement that was passed in 2020),” Landers told the committee.

On Monday, a draft of the new sales tax agreement – without any specific dollar amounts filled in -- was sent to the New York State Comptroller’s Office for review.

Landers has set Sept. 14 as the date to send the amended and signed agreement to the Comptroller for formal approval.

SHOOTING FOR A $1 MILLION GRANT

In other action, the Ways & Means Committee voted in favor of a resolution to hold a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Old County Courthouse to provide information regarding the application of funding from the Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 Response program in the amount of $1 million.

Landers explained that the money is targeted for assistance to small businesses in the county, those with 25 or fewer employees.

He said the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp. will help facilitate the money, if received, to go toward programs such as job creation, equipment/furnishings for parklet-type outdoor dining locations, personal protective equipment, and air handling measures, telecommuting employment and related initiatives.

“We have 12 months to spend the money from the date of applying,” he said, adding that the GGLDC, Downtown Batavia Improvement District, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and other outlets will be promoting this heavily. “This is money beyond the $11 million that we received from the American Rescue Plan Act, and we still have that.”

Landers said the majority of the funds will be in the form of grants, with some to be allocated as loans.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” he added.

HCA WITH PLUG POWER IN THE WORKS

The committee also approved a resolution authorizing the county to enter into a Host Community Agreement with Gateway Hydrogen LLC, also known as Plug Power Inc., of Latham, which is planning to build a green hydrogen production facility at the Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park in the Town of Alabama.

Landers reported that the county – as long as the proposed project goes through – would receive $366,000 annually for 20 years plus another $147,000 annually from a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement.

“This brings revenue to the county to be used for general operations without having negative tax cap implications as well as giving us the option of how to use it,” he said, adding that it is projected to start on Jan. 1, 2023.

Host Community Agreements or Host Benefit Agreements are legal contracts that benefit both the community and the developer of a project -- stipulating the benefits a developer agrees to fund or furnish, in exchange for community support of a project.

Benefits can include commitments to hire directly from a community, contributions to economic trust funds, local workforce training guarantees and more.

In this case, Landers said some of the funds could go toward a Niagara County connection that would increase the water supply to the northern region of the county, including around the STAMP site.

“This may be able to support the possible connection to Niagara County,” he said. “It’s basically gap water between Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the Countywide Water Program.”

He also said he believes the Town of Alabama will be entering into a HCA with Plug Power.

The PILOT agreement will serve to lower the tax cap, which helps reduce the property tax rate, he said.

Previously: Genesee County leaders present plans to distribute $10 million in sales tax/other revenue to towns and villages

July 20, 2021 - 5:07pm

Update: July 24, 9:30 a.m.

Comment from Anne Constantino, president and CEO of Horizon Health Services, which has an office in Batavia:

“We are grateful to the Attorney General for her success in this settlement that will absolutely deliver much needed resources in our efforts to prevent, combat and treat the serious public health crisis of addiction.”

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The executive director of a local substance use prevention and treatment agency is hailing today’s announcement that four major pharmaceutical distributors are close to an agreement to pay out $26 billion to states and municipalities for their roles in perpetuating the nation’s opioid epidemic.

“Yes, this is welcome news and I’m just hoping the money ends up going to assist individuals and families struggling with opioid addiction,” said John Bennett, executive director of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. “It definitely is needed to stabilize the treatment system that has been impacted negatively by the recent pandemic.”

According to multiple media outlets, Johnson & Johnson, Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen are near a deal that would resolve multiple legal challenges as well as pay for prevention, treatment and recovery services throughout the United States.

Genesee County Attorney Kevin Earl said it will be awhile before it is known how much money will be allocated locally.

The New York City law firm of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC is representing Genesee County as well as several other counties, Earl said.

“Most of the particulars are up in the air right now,” Earl said. “The county has retained this law firm to represent us in the litigation and they have advised us of the settlement with three of the distributors and Johnson & Johnson, but it’s too early to tell what Genesee County or any other participant in the litigation will get.”

A published report in today’s online edition of The New York Times indicates that the pact has yet to be finalized and “could still fall apart or have significant changes.”

The Times’ story also included the following:

-- According to lawyers familiar with negotiations, Johnson & Johnson, which made an opioid painkiller and a fentanyl patch and supplied opium-based ingredients to other drug manufacturers, would pay $3.7 billion in the first three years and $1.3 billion over the next six years. It had already shut down its supply business and discontinued its opioids, and agreed to refrain from selling opioids.

-- The distributors as well as several manufacturers are in the midst of a trial in a case brought by the State of New York and two of its counties. This morning, Letitia James, the attorney general for New York, announced a $1.1 billion deal with the distributors to settle that case. That money would be a part of the overall $26 billion settlement, but so far, it is the only deal that has been formally agreed to. Payments to New York State could begin in two months, Ms. James said.

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said he was “fairly certain” that the money awarded to the county is for specific purposes, unlike the tobacco settlement, which gave counties more leeway to use the money for general operations.

“This money would have to go towards specifically combatting opioids,” he said. “So, it would lead to us partnering with agencies in the community to help deliver these services – agencies such as GCASA and others.”

Marcus Molinaro, president of the New York State County Executives Association, said in a press release that the settlement “comes at a crucial moment as counties across the state and nation grapple with a startling resurgence in overdose deaths.”

“No amount of money can bring back the lives lost to the opioid epidemic, but it can honor those lost by investing in prevention, education and treatment services to save lives,” he said.

“New York’s county executives were proud to work in collaboration with Attorney General Letitia James to pass legislation creating an Opioid Settlement Fund to ensure those most responsible for plunging us into this crisis, and not local taxpayers, pay for treatment, recovery, and abatement efforts critical to defeating this deadly scourge.”

July 16, 2021 - 12:07pm

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Photo: Genesee County and Town of Batavia crews are working to replace culverts along South Main Street Road and Wortendyke Road – a project that is expected to take about six weeks.

During that time, the South Main Street Road will be closed to motorists heading west about three-quarters of a mile from the Wortendyke Road intersection and at the intersection for those traveling on Wortendyke Road.

Photo by Mike Pettinella.

July 12, 2021 - 5:55pm

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Having supported a loved one’s multiyear battle with addiction, Allie Hunter said she is uniquely qualified and motivated to help deliver others throughout the United States from the clutches of substance use disorders in her role as national executive director of the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative.

Hunter drove from her Cape Cod, Mass., home today to meet with leaders of the PAARI chapter in Genesee County at the Batavia Fire Department station on Evans Street in preparation of her keynote address at Tuesday’s event showcasing the local program.

The Genesee County chapter is called Public Safety Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, a slightly altered version of the nonprofit organization’s official name due to the fact that the Batavia FD is the first fire company in New York State to join the effort to lead people to treatment and recovery without the threat of being arrested.

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, Batavia Police Department and Le Roy Police Department – all supported by the Genesee County Health Department – are current participants in the local PAARI.

Tuesday’s event is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and was open to the public on a preregistration basis. Christen Ferraro, program coordinator, said that about 50 people are expected to attend.

Hunter said her sister’s struggles with substance use have given her a deeper understanding of addiction – as well as treatment and recovery – and have motivated her to reach as many individuals and families as possible.

“My younger sister, Nicole, for several years struggled with addiction,” Hunter said. “She experienced several overdoses and it was really tough for my family during that period of time.”

She said she was close to her sister and “oftentimes, I was the person that she would call when she overdosed or when she got into some type of challenge and I always tried to answer my phone anytime she called to help her out.

“It’s tough as a family member. You don’t know who to talk to about it or what resources are there. I didn’t know what I know now, and that motivates me, too, to try to support family members who have been impacted by it.”

About eight years ago, Nicole decided to start the recovery process, Hunter said.

“She has been doing really well. Now 32, she works as a recovery coach at a community health center nearby; so, we kind of work in the same field now, which is pretty cool,” she said.

Hunter said that her sister now takes part in some of the PAARI trainings and has responded with a police department on calls for help on Cape Cod.

“It’s great to have her doing so well and have that inspiration of how recovery is possible even though at the time – when somebody is struggling – there feels like there’s no hope,” she said. “But there’s always hope. So, that kind of motivates me as well.”

Unfortunately, there was no PAARI program at the time of her sister’s addiction, but things have changed considerably as the program’s numbers have increased from 100 departments when Hunter took over as executive director to about 650 today.

“How amazing would it have been if eight years ago there was a police department she could have walked in to because there were so many missed opportunities where she didn’t have the right insurance or couldn’t get a bed or couldn’t get a ride?” she asked. “Even on those overdoses, thank goodness there were officers carrying Narcan that were able to revive those. But it also highlights that there is more to be done.”

The goal, Hunter said, is to have PAARI become a standard “police in practice” offering.

“That’s the vision that we’re working towards but I think in the last five years we’ve grown a lot and have gotten about 30,000 people into treatment through our law enforcement partners,” she reported. “Still, overdoses are on the rise and we know that there is so much work to do.”

Hunter, who travels extensively around the country to trainings, chapter launches and conferences, said she is excited about the program’s development in Genesee County.

“For me, it’s really rewarding to get to be a part of local program launching and thinking about the ripple effect that will have on families and individuals that have been affected by addiction,” she offered. “For me to be able to be here in person and to meet the people behind it and see how PAARI has been part of that is really rewarding and exciting.”

PAARI’s funding comes mostly through grants and a “couple of federal organizations,” Hunter said, mentioning the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that manages the AmeriCorps program.

The Genesee County PAARI program is sponsored by the Greater Rochester Health Foundation, Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, GOW Opioid Task Force, and a grant from the health department.

For more information, contact Ferraro at [email protected].

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is a publicist for GCASA.

Photo: Allie Hunter, executive director of PAARI, meets with public safety officials at Batavia Fire Department headquarters. From left are John Bennett, GCASA executive director; Interim Fire Chief Dan Herberger; Hunter; Fire Captain Greg Ireland; Sheriff's Sgt. Brian Frieday; Batavia PD Assistant Chief Chris Camp; Sgt. Emily McNamara of the Le Roy Police Department was also part of the discussion. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

July 10, 2021 - 12:08pm

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Submitted photo and press release:

Leaders of the Public Safety Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative in Genesee County have been informed that Allie Hunter, PAARI’s national executive director, will be coming to Batavia to speak at Tuesday’s event showcasing the participation of the City of Batavia Fire Department.

The program is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at fire headquarters at 18 Evans St.

Hunter (photo at top), in her role as executive director of the Boston, Mass.-based organization, coordinates training, technical assistance, and strategic guidance to police to help them when dealing with individuals using alcohol or drugs, or in recovery.

An authority on policing as it relates to the opioid epidemic, she was deputy director of the Nonviolent Initiative for Democracy, and has worked at several other Boston-area nonprofit agencies, including ZUMIX and Bikes Not Bombs.

In the spring of 2017, Hunter received a Nonprofit Excellence Award and was named Young Professional of the Year by the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network. In fall 2018, she accepted an AmeriCorps Excellence Award for PAARI’s first-of-its-kind program that embeds national service members in police departments to address the opioid epidemic.

PAARI, officially known as Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative, is designed to provide support and resources to help law enforcement agencies nationwide create non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery.

The public is invited to attend the Tuesday's event, which will feature local public safety officials as well as representatives of the Genesee County Health Department, Greater Rochester Health Foundation, Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, and GOW Opioid Task Force.

Genesee County participants are the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, City of Batavia Police Department, Village of Le Roy Police Department, City of Batavia Fire Department and Genesee/Orleans Health Department.

Complimentary food and beverage will be provided.  

To register for this event, click here. Once registered, individuals will be contacted for their lunch selection.

For more information, contact Christen Ferraro, GRHF project coordinator, at [email protected].

July 9, 2021 - 6:40am

New York State Agricultural Districts, especially in counties such as Genesee where farming is vital to the local economy, are significant geographic regions that enable farmers to work with their municipalities to best serve their communities.

That was a key point of a recent webinar conducted by Jeff Kehoe and Kathleen Tylutki, farmland protection specialists with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, Division of Land and Water Resources, Agricultural Protection Unit.

Agricultural Districts are defined as locally initiated mechanisms for the protection and enhancement of agricultural land as a viable segment of the local and state economies.

“Back in 1971-72, the ag district program was developed to help stem the tide of suburbanization moving into the countryside,” Kehoe said. “It’s really not a matter of the farmer and the department; there’s a lot more to this. In New York State, towns have local authority and they have the ability to control what happens in their town and jurisdiction.”

In 2020, there were 165 Agricultural Districts in 53 counties in New York, consisting of 26,227 farms and accounting for 9,149,836 acres.

“It’s a very successful program and each year we have been growing,” Kehoe reported. “And in light of recent events, hopefully we will see more and more properties enroll in the ag district to better accommodate agriculture and allow farmers to scale up their operations without too much scrutiny from the town.”

In Genesee County, according to Planning Director Felipe Oltramari, there are four ag districts, covering 6,200 parcels and 203,000 acres.

“The number of acres is about two-thirds of the total land area in the county,” Oltramari said.

The Genesee County districts are as follows (see map below):

District 1 (green) – Darien, Alexander, Bethany and a bit of Pembroke, Batavia and Stafford.

District 2 (blue) – Alabama, Oakfield, Elba and northern parts of Pembroke and Town of Batavia.

District 3 (aquamarine) – Le Roy, Pavilion and parts of Stafford and Bergen.

District 4 (red) – Bergen, Byron and small parts of Elba, Stafford and Le Roy.

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Oltramari said enrollment into an ag district is free and voluntary, and that individual district reviews occur every eight years from the district’s creation date.

“This process is undertaken on behalf of the Genesee County Legislature by the County Department of Planning,” he said. “During review, landowners within the district boundaries may enroll or withdraw property from the district. Only entire parcels may be included or excluded.”

Kehoe said that “the power of this program is given to the counties because local (town, village) government has so much control over what happens in their towns.”

“If you are a farm operation – which is a technical definition in our law – and your parcel is enrolled in the agricultural district, the circumstances are that it’s modified,” he said. “Your local laws are modified if you’re a farm operation enrolled in an ag district.

“That still means that you must comply with all local laws and permits and applications and all the local processes, however, when you’re in the ag district, the town is essentially on notice to streamline or facilitate your applications, minimize any fees and, hopefully, work with you to be as timely as possible and least burdensome as possible.”

Agricultural Districts are overseen by a county’s Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board – an 11-member committee under the direction of the county legislature. It is tasked with advising the legislature in matters relating to establishment, modification, continuation, or termination of agricultural districts.

The AFPB also issues recommendations to the legislature in regards to the Agricultural District Annual Enrollment and Smart Growth Plan revisions.

“It’s a different level of government that has oversight and can weigh in on ag issues,” Kehoe said.

In Genesee County, current AFPB members are Donn Branton, chairperson, farmer; Janice Beglinger, Agriculture Outreach educator Cornell Cooperative Extension; Steven Boldt, farmer; Kevin Andrews, director Real Property Tax Services; Christian Yunker, County legislator.

Also, Marcia Hirsch, agribusiness; LuAnne McKenzie, farmer; Dennis Phelps, Soil & Water Conservation District chairperson; Janette Veazey-Post, farmer; Tim Welch, Soil & Water Conservation technician, and Oltramari.

The AFPB, per Agriculture and Markets Law 25AA 302(c), shall render expert advice to the county legislature relating to the viability of lands to be enrolled in the agricultural district, including advice as to the nature of farming and the relation of farming in such area to the county as a whole.

Oltramari said specific recommendations could pertain to the proper placement of fire hydrants and water lines to not adversely affect farm operations, and the periodic reviews of the district itself.

Kehoe said that Right To Farm Laws provide additional protection for farmers, and come in three forms:

  • Agriculture Districts Law, Article 25AA, Section 308;
  • County laws that enact public policy supportive of agriculture;
  • Local laws that typically support agriculture and Article 25AA and, sometimes, utilize the services of an ag mediation panel and/or require a statement on building permits.

According to Section 308, The Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets is authorized to issue opinions regarding whether certain agricultural practices are sound. Any practice that is determined to be sound does not constitute a private nuisance when an action is brought. In a nuisance suit where a farming practice is determined to be sound, this section ensures that the plaintiff will incur any fees and other expenses related to the defense. This section protects farmers from paying costly legal fees to defend their operations against frivolous nuisance actions.

Section 305-A of the Agriculture Districts Law “protects farmers against local laws that unreasonably restrict farm operations located within an agricultural district,” Tylutki said.

This section of the law calls for coordination of local planning and land use decision-making with the agricultural districts program, and ensures that local zoning, comprehensive plans and land use plans will not unreasonably restrict or regulate farm operations within an agricultural district unless there is a threat to public health or safety.

Tylutki said the keys for valid objections to local law infringement are that the parcel is enrolled in an ag district, it is the site of a legitimate farm operation, and that the farmer has exhausted all local administrative remedies before appealing to the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets.

“Apply for it (protection status), get the denial and then the Department (of Agriculture) has something to react to,” she said. “So, then we actually have a hard denial to say to the town what is being unreasonable in consulting with your county AFPB and other local resources.”

She noted that an ordinance may appear reasonable in an abstract, but it could be unreasonably restrictive or regulate a particular farmer. All referrals are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Tylutki also spoke about farm stands and similar retail activities on ag district operations.

The rule of thumb for these ventures is that at least 51 percent of the agricultural crops, livestock and livestock products sold, on an annual basis, must be from the farm’s own production. Furthermore, the activity must be used as part of the direct marketing strategy of the farm operation and the primary purpose of the activity must be to sell the farm’s products/services, not to serve as a recreational use of the land.

Oltramari said that a prime example is the retail store and Community Supported Agriculture business at Porter Farms in Elba.

“They just opened a retail store and they have had the CSA for quite some time,” he said, explaining that a CSA allows citizens to purchase a membership and receive a weekly bag of produce from the farm.

“In an ag district, the farm is permitted to do this through the right-to-farm protections,” Oltramari said. “This is the same as wind or solar being used to offset utility costs of the farm. It also protects farmers against nuisance liability as long as the farmer is following the New York State ag district guidelines.”

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Additional resources on Agricultural Districts and related topics can be found at the following:

Agricultural Value Assessment Program, Department of Taxation and Finance
https://www.tax.ny.gov/research/property/assess/valuation/agindex.htm
Jeremy Kergel [email protected]

Building Standards and Codes, Department of State:
https://www.dos.ny.gov/DCEA/

Local Government Services, Department of State
https://www.dos.ny.gov/lg/

Farm Brewery/ Cidery/ Wineries etc. State Liquor Authority
https://sla.ny.gov/

Industrial Scale Solar Arrays: NYS Solar Guidebook
https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All%20Programs/Programs/Clean%20Energy%20Siti...

Agricultural District Mapping Program, Cornell University IRIS (Institute for Resource Information Sciences)
https://iris.cals.cornell.edu/extension/agricultural-districts/
Diane Ayers [email protected]

Publication: Planning for Agriculture
https://farmlandinfo.org/publications/planning-for-agriculture-in-new-yo...

July 5, 2021 - 12:02pm

From the National Weather Service office in Buffalo:

1151 a.m. EDT Monday July 5: Niagara-Orleans-Monroe-Wayne-Northern Cayuga-Oswego-Jefferson-Lewis-Northern Erie-Genesee-Wyoming-Livingston-Ontario-Chautauqua- Cattaraugus-Allegany-Southern Erie.

This Hazardous Weather Outlook is for western and north central New York this afternoon and tonight. The combination of heat and increasing humidity levels today may lead to heat index values near advisory levels of 95F inland across the Genesee Valley and Finger Lakes region.

Tonight, a cold front will approach and then move into the Lower Lakes with increasing chances for storms. The best chance to see a storm will be just south and east of Lake Ontario.

A Marginal Risk for severe thunderstorms has been issued with the main threat damaging wind gusts.

Tuesday through Sunday -- a stronger system approaches the Lower Lakes Wednesday with another round of storms. A Marginal Risk for severe thunderstorms has been issued for Wednesday afternoon and evening with the main threat damaging wind gusts.

June 22, 2021 - 11:32am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Le Roy Meadows, HUD, USDA, genesee county, V&V Development Group.

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The project manager of Le Roy Meadows says a solid plan is in place to address more than $600,000 in back taxes owed to Genesee County and necessary roof and driveway repairs at the 10-building, 80-apartment complex at 18 Genesee St.

David Renzo Jr., president of V&V Development Corp., of Batavia, today said a vouchering system to retrieve subsidies owed to the project by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and a commitment of an investment group out of California, which owns 95 percent of the complex, are the keys to getting Le Roy Meadows back on track.

“As soon as we get the subsidy in for all that, the taxes are going to be paid,” Renzo said.
“We’re resubmitting vouchering covering the past three or four years, and we’re thinking that in four to five weeks we will start receiving the HUD subsidy again and the taxes will be paid.”

The Batavian has learned that the county is waiting to receive $605,886.43 in back taxes owed by Le Roy Meadows -- $603,167.33 on the property assessed at $2.2 million and another $2,719.10 on a small parcel assessed at $10,000. The taxes are for the years 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Genesee County hasn’t started the foreclosure process yet due to the signing by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of an extension of the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 and the COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Businesses Act through Aug. 31.

Renzo said the location’s current problems stem from HUD suspending its contract with Le Roy Meadows several years ago. Tenants there pay 30 percent of their monthly income toward rent with HUD supplying the difference.

“Our HUD contract was suspended but we’re working on that with HUD right now by sending the vouchers (for the back subsidies),” he said. “There was a lot of confusion. The tenants shouldn’t be worried now because we have a plan in place. They’re not going to lose their rental assistance.”

He said the worst-case scenario is that tenants will receive an individual voucher that can be used for the rental assistance – giving them a choice between staying at Le Roy Meadows or taking that voucher to live somewhere else.

“Right now, rental assistance is project-based. The investment group in California is committed to getting this done. They’ve got positive feedback from HUD and getting the back subsidy that is owed to us to pay off the taxes and get the work done,” Renzo advised.

Concerning the condition of the roofs and driveway, Renzo said he is working with the investment group, soliciting the bids and lining up the work, to have all of the roofs replaced and to blacktop “the worst part of the driveway.”

He also said that repairs of the original sidewalks are part of the plan.

The tarps covering the roofs on many of the buildings are there as precautionary measures, he noted. Thus far, one of the 10 roofs has been repaired.

“With the subsidies about to come, plus the reserve accounts that we have set up and the backing of the investment group, the work will get done,” he said, adding that the interior of the apartments are in “great shape.”

Renzo said that contrary to what was reported in another local news outlet, neither he nor the V&V Development Group own Le Roy Meadows. He did say that plans are to bring in a new management group specializing in HUD policies and procedures to run Le Roy Meadows.

V&V Development Group also manages three complexes governed by the United States Department of Agriculture – The Meadows at South Main Street and Northside Meadows, both in Batavia, and Corfu Meadows.

Photo: Le Roy Meadows building with tarps protecting the roof, which needs replacing. Courtesy of Le Roy code enforcement officer.

June 15, 2021 - 2:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in county flag, genesee county, video, alexander.
Video Sponsor

The county flag designed by Riley Wall, an Alexander student, could be in the running to become the official county flag, Planning Director Felipe Oltamari revealed after a ceremony yesterday recognizing Riley's winning design in the youth art competition.

The winner of the adult design competition, which hasn't been announced yet, was expected to become the new official county flag but "a lot of people have said they really like this one better, it's really grown on me," Oltamari said. "It's really grown on me. We'll see what the Legislature decides."

The flag designed by Riley flew outside the Genesee County Courthouse yesterday in an honor that culminated with a proclamation presented to Riley but Legislator Gary Maha.

Riley designed the flag, she said, to reflect the county's agricultural roots and the diversity of the county's residents. It depicts an ear of corn and two hands reaching to grasp it, one white and the other brown.  

As it turned out, planning department staff and Oltamari's mother ended up making the flag -- cutting the patterns, sewing the pieces together -- in short order after the flag company originally hired to create the flag wasn't able to complete the order in time to fly yesterday.  

Previously: Alexander Central eighth-grader's Genesee County flag judged as the best in children's contest

June 12, 2021 - 10:11am

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers on Friday applauded the New York State Legislature for passing measures that will give county leaders across the state additional flexibility – leading to a lessening of the tax burden upon its residents.

“The legislation that recently passed the Assembly and Senate are definite wins for counties throughout New York and the citizens of Genesee County and New York State,” Landers said. “We are hopeful the governor will sign the legislation.”

When and if they are signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, these pieces of legislation will touch on several areas that directly affect how counties run their operations, Landers said.

He singled out three of the bills that passed both houses of the legislature in the final days of the 2021 session:

  • Expands Investment Options for Counties to provide similar options as those available to New York City under current law and help maximize returns for taxpayers.

“This passed legislation will allow counties to maximize their monies in reserve by earning a higher rate of interest,” Landers said.

  • Creates an AIM Redesign Task Force to analyze and recommend available alternatives to the current AIM formula and allocations, including models from other states.

“The creation of an Aid and Incentives for Municipalities design task force is certainly welcome, because simply shifting the state’s responsibility to fund local governments onto counties is not working and is not sustainable,” Landers said.

  • Extends the Countywide Shared Services Initiative for an additional three years and enhances flexibility within the program to encourage more participation.

“This legislation providing for an additional three years of incentives for shared service initiatives is very welcome news in Genesee County as we are always looking for ways to partner with local governments to deliver services in more efficient ways,” Landers offered.

Other county priorities that were passed by the Assembly and Senate were the creation of an early intervention covered lives assessment fee on commercial insurance to help fund services for infants with special needs, and raising of the age of juvenile delinquent offenses from 7 to 12, keeping very young children out of the criminal justice system.

The latter, according to the New York State Association of Counties, helps to address racial disparities in the justice system, and allows tax dollars to be better spent on programs that are developmentally appropriate for young children.

NYSAC President Jack Marren commended lawmakers for being sensitive to what county governments have gone through.

“Over the last year we’ve seen how vital it is to have strong local governments that can respond to unforeseen emergencies and provide essential services to residents when it matters most,” Marren said. “Counties applaud Speaker Heastie, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and the state lawmakers who fought to provide counties with the resources and flexibility we need to support the programs at the local level.”

NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario called upon Cuomo to put his signature to the paper.

“I’m hopeful that we can build on the progress made during this session and carry that momentum into next year, but first we need Governor Cuomo to sign these bills into law so that counties can get to work building effective and sustainable local governments.”

June 3, 2021 - 9:34am

burns_1.jpgGenesee County’s new Information Technology director made a favorable impression upon county legislators at Wednesday’s Ways & Means Committee meeting when he presented a resolution that came with a zero financial impact.

Batavian Michael Burns, (photo at right), who began employment with the county on May 24 after more than 20 years at the Rochester Institute of Technology, requested that lawmakers approve acceptance of a cell phone booster that will improve reception at County Building II on West Main Street Road.

The booster is being provided at no charge by Verizon Wireless, which has an agreement with the county for installation, maintenance and operation of the in-building coverage system.

It was Burns’ first request of legislators, who forwarded the resolution to next week’s meeting of the full board.

Burns thanked legislators for the opportunity to work in his hometown and was welcomed by Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein, who voiced her pleasure that his initial resolution didn’t cost the county any money.

Previously (feature story on Burns from April 30): Batavia resident accepts Genesee County information technology director position after long career at RIT

In other action, the committee:

  • Approved using $21,250 from the 1 percent sales and use tax reserve to purchase body cameras, docking stations and annual licenses for road patrol for the Sheriff’s Office. Apparently, the request was made last year but was not transferred to the county’s 2021 budget.
  • Accepted a grant for $50,099 from the state Department of Health and Health Research Inc. for the county’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program, starting on July 1 and extending through June 30.
June 2, 2021 - 8:14pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Ways & Means Committee, Code of Ethics, genesee county.

While more of a “behind the scenes” aspect of municipal government, a Code of Ethics and Annual Financial Disclosure Statement are essential in educating public employees and public servants of expected standards of conduct and potential conflicts of interest.

The Genesee County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee this afternoon, following the lead of County Attorney Kevin Earl, took a step toward unifying its Code of Ethics by setting a public hearing on Local Law Introductory No. 2, Year 2021, to repeal and replace the county’s current Ethics and Disclosure Law.

The public hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. June 23 during a meeting of the full legislature at the Old County Courthouse.

Earl said this measure is being taken not because the current Code of Ethics is inadequate but to merge the various aspects of the code into one document.

“Currently, the Ethics Law and the Annual Financial Disclosure Statement came about in a Local Law in 1990,” Earl said. “The Local Law was amended two times by other Local Laws (in 1991 and 1992), so one of the problems is that when you want to find out what’s current, you have to toggle – go back and forth – between three Local Laws, which makes it difficult.

“So, the main purpose of this is to put everything in one Local Law; everything is right there and you can see everything in one place.”

Earl said that he updated some of the language in the code and disclosure statement, basing the county document on the New York State Comptroller’s Office model ethics code.

“We almost quoted it word for word – except for items that apply specifically to Genesee County,” he said.

According to General Municipal Law, officers and employees of a municipality are prohibited from having certain conflicts of interest, and each municipality is required to adopt a Code of Ethics covering disclosure of interests in legislation before the local governing body, holding of investments in conflict with official duties, private employment in conflict with official duties, future employment, and such other applicable standards.

The Genesee County Code of Ethics and Annual Financial Disclosure Statement, which must be filled out annually by designated county employees and members of specific boards and committees. Approximately 125 people currently are required to adhere to the code and submit the financial statement.

Sections of the updated document include:

  • Repeal and Replace. Local Law Introductory No. 2, Year 2021, would repeal and replace the original code and the ensuing amendments;
  • Code of Ethics. This is the section that spells out requirements for county employees and appointees, and includes: term definitions; applicability; prohibition of using a municipal position for personal or private gain; disclosure of potential conflict of interest; procedure for recusal or abstention; investments and/or private employment in conflict with official duties; future employment; personal representation; use of municipal resources; interest in contracts; nepotism; confidential information and gifts.
  • Board of Ethics. This defines the committee that is appointed by the County Legislature and will render advisory opinions to officers and employees with respect to the General Municipal Law governing any Code of Ethics.
  • Financial Disclosure and Annual Statements of Disclosure. This section defines the terms used and reporting categories along with the procedures and key dates for filing the annual statements with the Clerk of the Legislature.
  • Whistleblower Protections. This part indicates the county’s prohibition of illegal or unethical activity, and safeguards any employee who reports such activity from being discharged, discriminated against or from being subject to retaliation.
  • Penalties. Anyone making false statements can be fined, disciplined or discharged from their duties, but an appeals process that brings in the Board of Ethics is in place.
  • Effective Date. The new Local Law shall take effect upon proper filing with the Office of the Secretary of State.

In another development, County Manager Matt Landers reported that the county has received the first half of its $11.1 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The exact total going into the county coffers is $5,562,984.50. The second half will be distributed in 12 months.

Previously: Landers outlines four areas to use ARPA funds, says plan to spend $11.1 million is on the drawing board

June 2, 2021 - 9:34am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, genesee county, monroe county water authority.

While Genesee County leaders place conserving water at the top of the priority list, they also are looking at water storage as another step to making sure the supply is able to meet the demand during those extremely hot summer days.

County Engineer Tim Hens reported to legislators Tuesday that water storage does help with peak day requirements and pointed to several corresponding actions currently taking place.

“The addition of the new 750,000-gallon tank in Elba will be beneficial for the entire system as it comes online this summer,” Hens said. “Additionally, large industries in Genesee County are looking to add onsite tanks at their facilities that will allow them to adjust their heavy pumping during peak periods.”

Hens said that he has been talking to CPL (Clark Patterson Lee) engineers about advancing some tanks/storage from Phase 3 of the County Water Project to Phase 2 (which is happening now) as quicker ways to deal with peak day demands.

The Monroe County Water Authority also is moving ahead on a project to build a ground storage tank in Pavilion along Walker Road at the old Village of Le Roy water treatment plant that will provide 700,000 gallons per day, he said.

“There is an opportunity for the county to participate and upsize this tank to 1.5 million gallons,” Hens said. “The county share to do this would be about $400,000 which I feel is a great deal and is something the water fund could easily handle.”

Hens said that MCWA also plans to adjust the hydraulic grade zones south of Le Roy and in the Village of Le Roy to be on the same … zone that feeds much of the “center” of the county.

“This would allow the new Pavilion tank to coordinate directly with the Temperance Hill (situated west of Stafford, close to Fargo Road Pioneer Cemetery) tanks,” he said.

Hens said that the county is willing to pursue this arrangement, adding that he expects this tank to be completed by the end of next summer.

Last week, county, City and Town of Batavia, Village of Oakfield, Village of Elba and county Health Department officials issued a bulletin asking residents to do their part to conserve water this summer.

Reasoning behind the request is that, despite county efforts to increase the supply, “rapid increases in residential district growth and increased agribusiness and industrial use” have resulted in demand outpacing supply improvements during the summer months.

Officials said that if voluntary conservation measures are unsuccessful, mandatory water conservation may have to be enforced. 

Hens said that the county is taking steps to save water by reducing or eliminating flushing on peak days, better communication on water storage tank levels and coordinating with contractors filling new water mains.

May 29, 2021 - 12:39pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, American Rescue Plan Act, CARES Act, genesee county.

More than $11 million from the American Rescue Plan Act has Genesee County’s name on it, but it’s too early to speculate exactly how that money will be used, County Manager Matt Landers reported to legislators earlier this week.

Landers, in outlining the four areas on which the money can be spent, said he emphasized to county lawmakers that the current federal guidelines have been released on an interim basis and the final rule is not expected until mid-July.

“Between not having the final rule yet, plus the fact that the feds are doing this in a two-traunch allocation of the money, no official roadmap of how were going to spend the $11,125,969 has been drawn up,” Landers said.

“They’re doing this specifically because they don’t want you to spend all of the money now. They want you to evaluate how the pandemic is progressing and to be able to adjust later on with the funding they give you.”

Payments, in equal installments, to municipalities will be made sometime this year and again 12 months later.

According to a directive from the federal government, eligible uses are as follows:

  • To respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality.

Landers said his office is calculating what won’t be covered by the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act (of 2020) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with outstanding expenses to be covered with ARPA funds.

“We’re still investigating what we can and can't do here regarding tourism,” he said. “I am checking to see if this is the way we can assist the Chamber of Commerce for a rebranding effort, along with assistance to some of our local businesses most impacted by the pandemic and to assist our tourism sector.”

  • To respond to workers performing essential work during COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers.
  • For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the COVID-19 public health emergency relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the emergency.

Landers reported that the county treasurer’s office has calculated the amount of lost revenue by Genesee County, using the prescribed three formulas.

“The most beneficial calculation of lost revenue is approximately $6 million,” he said. “There are strings attached to this money, but early thoughts on how to utilize this portion is on the construction of the Genesee County Jail.”

He also said he is talking to department heads about possible investments and for cybersecurity upgrades proposed by the Information Technology department.

  • To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.                                                                                                    

Landers said it there could be around $5 million available for allocating to broadband and water infrastructure needs.

“Limitations on upload/download speed may impact the effectiveness of the broadband allocation,” he advised.

The county manager said he will be meeting with other county administrators on June 4 in Madison County and with New York State Association of County leaders “to put our heads together to see what works.”

“The interim final guidance provides us with a lot of information, but also a lot of questions,” he said. “It is too early to provide a complete list of recommendations, but it is safe to say we will be able to allocate all of the $11 million and will allocate it in the most impactful and transparent way.”

May 29, 2021 - 10:47am

Updated: May 30, 12:30 p.m., with job creation details

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

While acknowledging ongoing opposition and unsightly solar panels, Byron Town Supervisor Peter Yasses said the municipality has won the lottery as a result of its Host Community Benefit agreement with Excelsior Energy Center LLC – the company proposing to build a 280-megawatt solar system in the town under Article 10 of the New York State Public Service Law.

“You’ve won the lottery, but you’ve won the lottery for 20 years,” Yasses said on Friday in discussing the status of the project, which would turn 46 parcels of farmland covering about 1,600 acres into a sea of solar panels. “Every year this check comes – with a 2-percent increase. To me, that’s huge for the town.”

The check that Yasses is talking about is the $1,006,522 that Excelsior Energy would write to the town in year one of a 20-year HCB fee schedule that increases by 2 percent each year. Per the contract, the first annual check would arrive within 30 days after the start of construction.

All told, combining a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) with the Genesee County Economic Development Center, special district charges, agricultural exemption revenue and the negotiated host benefit fee, the Town of Byron – if the project receives final approval – would be on the receiving end of $24 million over the two decades.

Yasses said he and the town board took a stand to get what they felt was a fair price for the cost of losing the aesthetics of farmland and fields.

“We had to go into this with an open mind. At any means, it’s not going to be pretty for the town as far as having to look at the panels,” he said. “But it really has nothing to do with our town board. This is getting rammed down our throats by (Gov.) Andrew Cuomo through Article 10.”

The Article 10 provision (which is being replaced by Office of Renewable Energy Siting) authorizes the state’s Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment to oversee development of large solar facilities, bypassing much local control.

Siting Board Public Hearing is Tuesday

On Tuesday (June 1), the siting board will be conducting a public statement hearing -- a key step toward the end of the Article 10 process – via teleconference from New York City with Administrative Law Judge Gregg Sayre presiding.

Two sessions are scheduled – 1 and 6 p.m. – for community members to participate.

A determination on a permit to proceed with the project is expected by April. Developers are anticipating the solar system will be operational by the end of 2023.

Yasses said attorneys hired by the town during this process, which started more than two years ago, told board members their hands were tied.

“When a lawyer sits you down in executive session and says, ‘It’s coming whether you like it or not and there is nothing you can do about it,’ that paints a different picture in your mind,” he said. “Again, these aren’t going to be looking pretty in our town – we know that; the town board knows that. However, we had to do what is best for the people that have to look at these things.”

Yasses: We Changed Our Game Plan

Yasses said the board changed its approach from “defense to offense,” and through five months of negotiations forged a deal that it felt was justified.

“Paul (town attorney Paul Boylan) and I were charged with the negotiation and I, knowing what these things (panels) look like, did not want to sell out my town. At first they were talking nowhere near this kind of money and some of the propaganda they were dishing out – it was something like $400,000 to $500,000 a year. That’s peanuts,” he said.

“I said, ‘No way, I want a million (dollars). I won’t say who … but there were some big people in the county and town who said, ‘You’re dreaming.’ I said that’s my threshold. I want a million dollars a year for the Town of Byron. I have to live here, my people have to live here, my kids are going to live here and my grandkids are going to live here.”

Yasses said the HCB agreement was signed on April 28 at a board meeting via Zoom.

“The board was pleased,” he said, adding that he believes about a third of the annual payment can be used for property tax relief.

“Approximately a third of it will be injected into our budget,” he said. “I can’t say that the tax rate will go down but this is going to help not to raise taxes because Genesee County cut our sales tax distribution by more than that. We took some pretty drastic measures to keep ourselves in good shape, but I’m not sure the tax rate will go down.”

Residents Will Have a Voice

He said it will be up to town residents as far as how to spend the remainder of the windfall.

“Most likely, we will hire a financial advisor and we’ll probably select a committee through the citizens to help us come up with wants and needs,” he said. “It’s the community’s money and I want the community to have a say on how they spend their money.”

A closer look at the financials involved with the project reveal that the town, Genesee County and the Byron-Bergen Central School District will benefit from the PILOT negotiated between Excelsior Energy Center and the GCEDC.

Per the HCB fee schedule, the county would get $281,775 in year one and the school district would get $675,703 in year one. The town’s share would be $120,522 and, again, these payments come with a 2-percent annual escalator clause.

The GCEDC Board of Directors is expected to vote on tax incentives for Excelsior Energy Center at its meeting on June 3. Excelsior is seeking $21,498,313 in property tax abatements over the 20 years and $11,288,287 in sales tax abatements (for construction materials).

Jim Krencik, GCEDC director of marketing and communications, said Excelsior Energy would be investing $345.55 million – with $1.82 million in the first year alone to the three taxing jurisdictions based on $6,500 per megawatt.

$84.7 Million Into the Local Economy

“Excelsior’s investment over the 20-year project horizon is estimated to generate $117.5 million into the local economy when you consider the total PILOT payments, host community agreement, estimated fire district payments and related tax reductions, and construction purchases and payroll,” Krencik said.

The solar company said 290 full-time equivalent jobs will be created during the construction phase and 3.1 FTE during project operation and maintenance (solar technician, tech leader and high voltage technician).

Krencik pointed out that when subtracting the tax incentives from the direct economic impact figure, the direct benefit in excess of costs is $84.7 million over the 20 years.

And, of course, the farmers who have signed contracts with Excelsior Energy to lease their land will reap financial rewards.

Yasses said that he and others from the town will be on the siting board public hearing call on Tuesday and expects that those in opposition will be as well.

“We have heard those against it loud and clear. But, we had to do what we felt was right for the community,” he said. “This the best deal in New York State. We had some people scratching their heads wondering how we got it. It was through tough negotiations – that’s how we got it.”

Previously: GCEDC's public hearing on the Town of Byron solar project: An 'incentive' for parties to voice their opinions

May 21, 2021 - 12:32pm

download_2.jpgAnyone who has followed Genesee County government proceedings over the past 14 months is aware that the municipality has been focused on limiting the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on its economic and public health.

The county took numerous steps to mitigate the impact on its bottom line, including reducing contributions to outside agencies, freezing new hires, instituting furloughs and holding off on previously scheduled capital projects.

It also, through the health department, has kept a close eye on coronavirus positivity rates and has been diligent in the testing and (now) vaccinating of its residents.

As a result of these measures, county leaders have learned that the Office of the New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli gave a passing grade to Genesee County’s strategic planning in an “Adequacy of 2021 Budgets” review released earlier this week.

The report’s “key finding” was that county officials adequately assessed the impact of the pandemic on financial operations while developing estimates for significant expenditures in the 2021 adopted budget.

Going forward, the review’s recommendation can be boiled down to “keep doing what you’ve been doing," as follows:

In consideration of the continually new and evolving impacts caused by the pandemic, County officials should carefully monitor their budgeted-to-actual revenues and expenditures and make amendments to the budget as needed throughout the year.

County Manager Matt Landers (photo at right), said he and his staff, in concert with the Genesee County Legislature, took a “commonsense approach” to preparing the 2021 budget – recognizing early that things were going to be much different as the coronavirus pandemic took hold and analyzing any and all data and information to make educated decisions.

“Genesee County put together the 2021 budget using honest, conservative and realistic estimates,” he said. “We are happy to see that the Comptroller’s Office agreed with our process, and agree that we must continue to monitor the actual results in 2021 as compared with our budget, which is something we do every year.

“The county took very conservative cost-cutting measures in 2020 leading up to the 2021 budget, including instituting a hiring freeze, furloughing county employees and putting off capital projects. These proactive 2020 moves put us into a better position to weather the difficult 2021 budget."

County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein also said the conservative approach worked well in finalizing a $143,712,993 overall budget ($110,276,137 general budget) and reaching a property tax rate of $9.80 per thousand of assessed value – 31 cents less than the 2020 tax rate. About $2.4 million was appropriated from the county’s fund balance to balance the budget.

“The strategy that Matt and the legislature employed was one of very clear, concise and transparent communication,” Stein said. “Matt has provided to the legislature, in his reports and updates during that budget process, every piece of information that we could glean from the New York State Association of Counties, Office of the State Comptroller, daily conversations that the governor held – every place that we could possibly pull information from – along with all of our department heads and outside agencies.”

Stein said she is “proud” of the job that Landers, his team, department heads and outside agencies did in putting the budget together “because we used the best information that we could possibly have at that time.”

Landers said the county continues to face challenges as it deals with circumstances and situations coming out of the pandemic.

“We are bracing for additional state budget cost shifts as we work on Phase 3 Water Project to ensure water supply keeps up with demand and as we seek to fund the new county jail,” he said.

The Office of the Comptroller selected 20 municipal governments in New York for budget reviews, noting it sought to understand how municipalities worked through difficult times and understanding that the pandemic affected local governments at different levels.

Click here to read the full review.

May 13, 2021 - 11:49am

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

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

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

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

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

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

GENESEE COUNTY

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

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

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

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

CITY OF BATAVIA

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

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

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

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

TOWN OF BATAVIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 30, 2021 - 8:57am

michael_burns_1.jpgIf the hiring of longtime Batavian Michael Burns as Genesee County's new information technology director turns out as well as the hiring of Steve Zimmer did a dozen years ago, County Manager Matt Landers and his staff will be delighted.

Burns, the manager of Client Services at Rochester Institute of Technology since December 1998, has been selected to replace Zimmer, who will be retiring from his full-time position on May 7. Burns (photo at right) is scheduled to join the county workforce on May 24.

“Steve came to us 12 years ago after 12 years at the University of Rochester and did an outstanding job,” Landers said today. “Michael is coming to us from RIT after a long career and we’re looking for more of the same.”

Burns, a 1984 Batavia High School graduate, coordinates the activities and work assignments of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf Client Services group that consists of 12 full-time employees, two cooperative education students and eight to 10 student workers per quarter.

Client Services maintains approximately 500 computers in more than 60 NTID classroom/lab spaces, and coordinates NTID interoffice mail services, word processing, duplicating, class notes scanning and the NTID Help Desk.

Other responsibilities of the department include inventory maintenance, secure disposal of equipment, special event support first-level technical response, redistribution of equipment, and the research/implementation of new technology.

Contacted by telephone today, Burns said now is the perfect time for him to explore a new opportunity.

“I always thought that when I became retirement-eligible from RIT that I would want to look around,” Burns said. “Genesee County popped up on the radar and the more I looked into this position, the more excited I became about actually working in my own community – working where what I do affects my neighbors, the Genesee County community – and it affects my life as well.”

A Williamsville native, Burns’ family moved to Batavia when he was in the fourth grade.

“My dad, John X. Burns, worked for Genesee Community College and, ironically, I will be working at County Building 2, where my dad was working when he worked for GCC,” he said.

While at Batavia High School, Burns was in the band and played tennis for a year.

“I was never particularly good at athletics – I was a geek,” he offered.

After graduating from high school, he earned an associate degree from Alfred State before moving to Virginia, where he was the senior designer for Newport News (Va.) Shipbuilding, specializing in power and lighting panel design for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

He returned to this area in 1995, becoming technical director for the School of the Arts, which is part of the Rochester City School District. At SOTA, he provided varied computer support for all classroom, lab and office systems.

Along the way, Burns attained his bachelor’s degree in Management Information Technology from RIT.

Looking ahead, he said he is glad that Zimmer will be staying around on a part-time basis for up to three months to assist in the transition.

“I am so grateful that they are keeping Steve around so I can learn from him for awhile before having to go off on my own,” Burns said. “I feel like I’m following a legend.”

On Wednesday, the Genesee County Legislature on Wednesday voted to create a temporary, part-time IT director position to allow for “the incumbent to assist with the transition of a new information technology director.”

The resolution assigns a pay rate of $51.69 per hour, effective May 10 through no later than Aug. 10. Landers confirmed that Zimmer has agreed to accept the temporary job.

“We are very fortunate to have Steve agreeing to stay on as we fully understand the critical nature of IT and the need for a smooth hand off between directors. It is going to be sad to see a great employee like Steve Zimmer leave us, but I am excited to see what new ideas Michael can bring to Genesee County government,” Landers said.

The county manager conveyed that after an extensive search process, the interview committee of several department heads decided that Burns was the best fit to lead the IT department.

“Michael brings 25 years of experience in the IT field with him, the last 20 years spent at RIT managing a staff larger than what he will walk into at Genesee County,” Landers said. “His style and demeanor actually resemble Zimmer’s, which is something the group liked to see. We are confident he can take complex IT issues and communicate solutions effectively to the manager’s office and legislature, and be able to meet the needs of our numerous departments.”

Burns and his wife, Sharon, who works at the BEST Center at GCC, have one daughter, Courtney, who is graduating this year with a degree in Nursing from D’Youville College in Buffalo. D’Youville College participates in a tuition exchange program with RIT.

In his spare time on the weekends, Burns is the bass player for Triple Threat, a six-member party rock band out of Buffalo (that’s him, fourth from left in the photo below).

“We play a little bit of everything – '60s, '70s, '80s, country – you name it and we play it,” Burns said. “That’s my outlet.”

triple_threat_1.jpg

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