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genesee county legislature

February 24, 2021 - 7:51pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, genesee county legislature.

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers today said he is hopeful that an urgent request to the governor’s office to designate Genesee Community College as a COVID-19 mass vaccination will become a reality.

Legislative leaders and public health directors in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties last week sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to authorize the use of the GCC campus as a regional location to administer the vaccine.

“We remain optimistic at this point that our request will be heard,” Landers said during a Genesee County Legislature meeting at the Old County Courthouse. “There is some hope and optimism through discussions with the Finger Lakes (Region) control room.”

The letter stated that the three counties have experienced delays in testing supplies and now have not received enough vaccine, adding that “having a regional clinic with less than a half hour commute would benefit these communities."

Genesee County lawmakers are confident that they have enough staff and volunteers to vaccinate 2,000 or more people per day.

Copies of the letter were also sent to Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming Counties state representatives, Assemblyman David DiPietro, Senator Patrick Gallivan, Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, Assemblyman Michael Norris, Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt, and Senator Edward Rath III.

On another front, Landers said that he and John Welch Jr., Orleans County chief administrative officer, were on a call with New York Association of Counties officials to talk about the two counties’ plan to build a joint jail on West Main Street Road in Batavia.

“We are focused on our joint jail and we talked about the history of the Genesee County Jail. And because of the governor’s budget wording, there is new, revised hope that there will be an opportunity (for it),” he said. “Obviously, we have a close partnership and a history of sharing with Orleans County – a willingness of two administrative bodies to do what is right for the taxpayers in the least costly manner.”

Landers said Genesee is moving forward with the project as it has asked a design firm to update its jail study to determine the proper number of beds.

“If they (Orleans County legislators) aren’t able to decide or meet the timeline we have … they could always jump in down the road (through) future expansion,” he said.

He also shared that in Albany County, excess jail beds were used to create a homeless shelter.

A report by Legislator Gary Maha indicated that if a federal stimulus plan passes in mid-March, counties who certify their COVID-related financial losses would be able to be reimbursed in 60 to 90 days.

In legislative action, Wade Schab of Alexander, a longtime parademic, was approved as a Genesee County coroner, replacing Jeff McIntire, who relocated to Florida.

Previously: Ways & Means supports resolution appointing Wade Schwab to fill vacant county coroner post​

February 22, 2021 - 11:00am

Not satisfied with the latest water rate study conducted by a New York City consulting firm, Genesee County government leaders will be putting their heads together in the coming weeks to find a path to a unified water rate for customers in the county’s two retail areas and lone wholesale area.

Tim Hens, county water system coordinator (as well as highway superintendent and engineer), updated the Genesee County Legislature’s Public Service Committee last week about the topic, which was prompted by a request by several towns in the Western Genesee MCWA Retail Area to look into the possibility of one rate for all.

The MCWA, or Monroe County Water Authority, provides water to most of the county, and determines the rates that users pay. Genesee County is divided into three zones: the East and West Retail Areas and the Central Wholesale Area. Currently, the rates are different in the three areas, with the West paying more than the other two, Hens said.

The West is comprised of the Town of Pembroke, Town of Darien and Village of Corfu.

The East side is comprised of Byron, Bergen, Le Roy, Stafford and Pavilion and the associated villages in those areas.

And the Central (or northwest) is comprised of the towns of Alabama, Oakfield, Elba, Batavia, Alexander, the villages in those towns, and the City of Batavia.

“Both East and West are retail because the Monroe County Water Authority operates the system,” Hens said. “They do the maintenance and they do the billing. MCWA leases the lines from the towns, operate it on their behalf, and establish the rates.”

MCWA IS THE ‘ULTIMATE AUTHORITY’

Hens said the MCWA, as a public authority, is required to have a third-party consultant come in and look at the total operation costs – pump stations, water treatment plants, water towers, annual maintenance, billing and all the overhead that goes into operating the system – prior to releasing a report.

“But the ultimate authority establishing the rate resides with the MCWA board,” he emphasized.

Concerning the Central Wholesale Area, Hens said those towns and villages are “technically buying water from Genesee County.”

“We purchase water on a wholesale basis from Monroe County at the Seven Springs connections in the Town of Stafford and that water is blended with water produced in the City of Batavia water plant, and then sent out to those areas,” he explained. “Most of the wholesale areas are operated by the Town of Batavia as it has intermunicipal agreements with each of those towns, except for the Village and Town of Oakfield and the City of Batavia, which operate their own systems.”

Hens said that each town still has jurisdiction over its market locally, but buys water from the county at wholesale versus buying it directly from the MCWA.

“The individual rate that each town charges is based on a rate that Genesee County charges them for water, which we use basically a 50-50 blend between the Monroe County wholesale and the City of Batavia rate from the water plant,” he advised. “Those two rates right now are about 10 to 15 cents apart so averaging them together, there isn’t that big of a difference.”

BUYING WATER AT WHOLESALE RATE

He said the county charges the wholesale rate (around $2.43 per 1,000 gallons) to the Central municipalities and, in turn, they mark that up to cover their overhead, capital reserve and/or debt service, and charge the customers just as the MCWA does. Those fees increase the total rate to around $6 per 1,000 gallons, which is within 30 cents per 1,000 gallons of the MCWA retail rate after factoring in all charges.

“At the end of the day, the total rate charged to customers in the Center part of the county, with the exception of the Village of Oakfield, is very comparable to what East residents are paying and not too much different from what the West residents are paying,” Hens said. “Oakfield is a bit higher due to their debt service.”

Customers residing in the Western Genesee Retail Area pay more due to several factors, Hens said.

“What makes the West side unique is that it is a small geographic area with less customers and they also have the operation of the Corfu water plant to factor in. Monroe County uses that plant to essentially treat and disinfect byproducts coming from Erie County because we’re kind of at the end of the system,” he said. “Another factor is the cost of operating the pump station in Pembroke. That area is 60 to 80 miles from the home base in Monroe County.”

Furthermore, much more water is coming in to the East side – a larger area with more customers and just one operational expense: the North Road pump station.

“That results in the difference in retail rates with the West side, obviously, being more expensive,” Hens said/ “The West side water is also expensive due to the higher cost of water in Erie County which MCWA must buy and then markup to cover their costs.”

DISCREPANCY IS PART OF PUBLIC DISCOURSE

Hens said the price difference between the East and West came to light a few years ago during negotiations over sales tax agreements and water rates with the towns and villages.

“At the time it was about a 90-cent difference between the East and West, with the West being more expensive – and we received a lot of feedback from municipalities on the West side of the county (stating) that there was a perception of unfairness in the rate,” he said.

As a result, the county was asked to investigate – in consultation with the MCWA -- and try to come up with a uniform rate throughout the county.

“We did that about a year ago as the legislature passed a resolution asking the Water Authority to study the feasibility of a unified county rate so that East and West would basically pay the same,” Hens said. “The thought was that because of the water usage difference between the East and the West, a unified rate would be halfway between or skewed toward the East because it is using about twice the amount of water that the West does.”

Hens said county officials were eager to see the rate study, hoping that it would lead to opportunities to move Erie County water through the West side of the system -- potentially to Alabama, Oakfield or Elba if those towns were to migrate to a retail situation with Monroe County.

BILLED VS. MASTER METERED WATER

“So, we got the study back, and the rates are a little bit higher than what I anticipated,” he said. “The biggest factor in the difference from what I projected and what the consultant (Amawalk Consulting Group of New York City) came up with was they used billed water and I used master metered water. The master metered water includes lost water and hydraulic bleeds to other systems where the billed water is only what is used by customers. This skews the ratio in water between East and West.”

The consultant’s findings for 2020 projected a combined, unified rate of $4.21 per 1,000 gallons, while Hens’ came up with $3.99 per 1,000 gallons. He said the $4.21 price is an increase of 47 cents per 1,000 gallons for East customers and a savings of about 80 cents per 1,000 gallons for West customers.

Since the average house uses about 60,000 gallons of water per year, a 47-cent increase on billed water to an East customer would equate to about $30 per year.

Hens said if you project that out over the next five years, the rate in the West expands “quite quickly,” with the gap increasing to almost $2 per 1,000 gallons versus the $1.30 gap that exists now.

“One of the things that the study didn’t consider – which I’m a little disappointed in – is that we’re seeing substantial growth in water usage on the East side, especially in the next two or three years,” he said.

PROPOSED DISTRICTS TO INCREASE USAGE

Amawalk apparently didn’t “read the tea leaves” on future usage, Hens said, noting that large water districts proposed for Byron, Bergen and the Town of Bethany will use about a combined 500,000 gallons of water per day on average.

“If that usage was factored in, then the unified rate would skew more heavily toward the East rate -- and the savings in the West would be more and the impact upon the users on the East would be even less,” he said.

Hens said the study also did not consider the Center (wholesale) portion of the county, which has seen a predominant increase in water usage.

“There are several moving pieces on the Countywide Water System that either impact the rate study dramatically or the rate conversely impacts on the Phase 2 and Phase 3 projects,” he said.

Hens’ presentation drew reaction from county legislators and town officials.

Legislature Gordon Dibble, who represents Darien and Pembroke, bemoaned the fact that customers pay more in those areas, and said he hoped the study could be amended.

Water to Darien, Pembroke and Corfu comes from Erie County and already is more expensive. Hens said that the Erie County base rate for water is the “real culprit” for the difference in price.

40-YEAR AGREEMENT IN FORCE, BUT …

Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein concurred, noting that the West is facing an 11-percent increase for 2021 compared to a 4.4-percent increase in the East. Again, Hens said, factors include the Erie County base rate, operational costs at the Corfu water plant and the number of gallons of water used.

Stein also pointed out that the towns agreed to the terms when they signed a 40-year water agreement as part of Phase 1.

Darien Town Supervisor Steve Ferry Jr. responded by saying he understood but brought up that the county indicated that a transmission line between Alexander and Darien was supposed to be put in but it never happened.

He, too, urged legislators to look at the entire system “and come up with a way to make it fairer for everyone.”

Going forward, Hens said a detailed discussion is on the agenda for the April 13th meeting of the Genesee County Water Resources Agency. The GCWRA was created in 1998 from the legislature’s Water Supply Task Force to assist in the implementation of water improvements for the county.

Earl LaGrou, of Alabama, GCWRA chair, said the report is essential to the future and longevity of the county water system.

FINANCIAL STABILITY IS THE KEY

“That’s what they’re trying to secure – the type of funding that is needed … to continue on with our latest phase, to help pay for that, but also water systems are not a five- or 10-year entity, they’re 30, 40, 50 years and they want to make sure there is enough cash flow to have upgrades,” he offered.

“We’re in Western New York. If there’s an emergency ice or weather-related incident where a pipe freezes, they have to have money to repair that so people aren’t without water. That’s what they’re trying to do – just get an across-the-board, easier rate that helps solidify the financial stability of the water system.”

LaGrou said GCWRA board members just received the report from Hens and will review it before making a recommendation to the Genesee County Legislature.

“Our board kind of does all the homework and we make recommendations – we don’t set forth policy,” he said. “Between now and April 13th, I’m sure that Tim will bring to us the pros and cons of the recommendation for the water rates ... so we can make an educated decision before the April 13th meeting. There may be some calls back and forth.”

That 10-member committee also includes Stein and legislators Gary Maha and Christian Yunker.

February 17, 2021 - 9:15am

The Genesee County Legislature’s Public Service Committee on Tuesday voted in favor of appropriating more than $11,000 in citizen donations to the ongoing renovation project at the Genesee County Animal Shelter at 3841 W. Main Street Road.

The approved resolution calls for using $11,437 in donations in order for contractors to epoxy coat additional flooring and provide fenced-in tops to the moveable kennels that are proposed for the “stray side” of the shelter.

Highway Superintendent Tim Hens, in reporting to the committee, said these items were not included in the original plan.

Afterward, he went into more detail about the project, which has a price tag of more than $220,000.

“The floors are being resealed and re-epoxied, primarily for bacteria control and cleaning,” he said. “The what we call ‘stray side’ of the kennel – the naughty side of the kennel, per se – is basically being redone. We’re putting automatic flush drains in the floor drain so that cleaning and sanitation can happen easier and quicker.”

Other improvements, mostly to facilitate the housing of dogs, include weatherization, regrouting and the introduction of mobile kennels, he said.

“There’s the weatherization of the enclosure around the kennels so that the external portions of the kennels are heated and conditioned as well as the inside. We are doing substantial regrouting and repointing of all the block and tile work in between the actual kennels themselves,” he said.

Hens said the pole barn-type building “looks nice on the outside” but is 20 years old, resulting in the rotting out of materials and ground that are constantly exposed to urine, feces and water.

“That is being replaced, and we’re swapping out for mobile kennels, primarily so the volunteers and the staff can move kennels around,” he added. “We’re trying to create a quarantine space for contaminated animals and things like that.”

The number of animals at the shelter, which is under the supervision of the Sheriff’s Office, varies from week to week, he said, noting that recently there were 57 dogs and cats at the facility.

Construction is underway, he said, but has been delayed a bit due to COVID-19-related supply-chain issues. He said he hopes to have the work finished by April.

In other action, the committee approved the following resolutions, which will be forwarded to the Ways & Means Committee and/or the entire legislature for final voting:

  • Extension of a contract with GLOW Counties and Environmental Enterprises Inc. for the GLOW Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program at a cost not to exceed $33,000 for 2021.

GLOW Solid Waste Coordinator Peggy Grayson said the county has contracted with GLOW Counties and Environmental Enterprises for 17 years and has received exceptional service. She said collection of household goods is scheduled for Sept. 18 at the Wyoming County Highway Department in Rock Glen and collection of electronics will take place on Sept. 25.

  • Amending the Sheriff’s Office budget to use $79,921 this year in available grant funding from the Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services, New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and an agreement with the Village of Bergen to provide additional services.

The grants include two DHSES grants ($47,661), a NYS GTSC Police Traffic Services Grant ($27,000) and the Village of Bergen agreement ($5,260).

Sheriff William Sheron said the DHSES money will be used to place laptop computers, radios and other communications equipment in patrol cars, while the Police Traffic Services Grant funds will be used to pay overtime necessary to support the program’s requirements.

Available funds from the Village of Bergen contract will be used as warranted to provide additional patrols in the village during the spring and summer months, he said.

The committee also accepted a $2,000 grant for the Sheriff’s Office to participate in the statewide Child Passenger Safety Program between Oct. 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2021.

Sheron said deputies would be available to show people how to properly install child safety car seats and to provide seats, if necessary.

  • Approval of special events applications at the Genesee County Park and Forest, a memorandum of understanding and a donation to support a Student Conservation Association internship as the county continues its relationship with the Association for Conservation of Recreational and Natural Spaces.

The ACORNS group will be using the park for a music event on Aug. 7 and a 5K/10K trail run and walk fundraiser on Oct. 3. Proceeds are used to assist the county with future programming, donations and other support.

The memorandum of understanding solidifies ACORNS’ standing with the county, according to Highway Superintendent Hens, who reported the organization has grown from 16 to 50 members who help the county promote the park.

ACORNS has donated $5,700 to the county to fund a 16-week, full-time SCA intern, whose responsibilities will include overseeing volunteers and assisting with environmental education.

Legislator Christian Yunker praised ACORNS, stating that the group “does tremendous things to support the county park.”

February 16, 2021 - 10:23pm

Acknowledging that there are obstacles to overcome before a shared jail with Orleans County is a reality, Genesee County Manager Matt Landers today said the firm hired to design a proposed 184-bed facility is being called upon to update its study.

“Even though the study we had done that was the basis for the design work on the jail is only about three-, three-and-a-half years old, a lot has happened in those three-, three-and-a-half years,” Landers said during the Genesee County Legislature’s Public Service Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse. “So, we are having SMRT (the architectural firm) update the study.”

Not much has been said about the jail in recent months as the county – as well as the entire nation – has been dealing with COVID-19 and budgetary concerns stemming from the pandemic.

In June, Landers reported that the county closed on the land acquisition – a parcel just east of County Building 2 on West Main Street Road – and the schematic designs of the jail were complete.

The county has contracted with SMRT and Pike Company Inc., the construction manager, for about $2.3 million and $1 million, respectively.

Landers said discussions with Orleans County officials have resumed, and they are encouraged by wording in the New York State budget “that seems to make it easier for counties to share a jail.”

“NYSAC (New York State Association of Counties) has indicated that when they advocated for this budget, they were actually looking at us, specifically, as a possibility (for a shared jail),” he said. “We’re hoping that the governor’s office will be able to assist us with additional funding.”

Originally, the plan was to build the jail in the fall of 2019 – 184 beds with a maximum population of 144. Landers said he’s not so sure that 184 is the right number now.

“Because of the bail reform, and the reformed bail reform, and current environment, we want to have an updated number,” he said. “When people were asking me, ‘Matt, why are we looking at a jail at 184 beds?’ I want to say that we had a study done by people who do this for a living.”

He said an update of the study will “kill two birds with one stone” as it will determine the jail bed needs for both Genesee and Orleans counties, and he doesn’t anticipate a lot of extra work to update the report.

“It’s something that we really should do anyway for our own bed needs. We, at the same time, are monitoring the state budget … and working with Orleans County and looking at the vast number of hurdles that are still out there,” he said.

Landers said if all goes well, a groundbreaking could come in the spring of 2022, but “it will take further discussion with the legislature, building consensus on the size and scope (of the project).”

February 10, 2021 - 7:41pm

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers this afternoon reported that Genesee County has the lowest seven-day positivity rate for COVID-19 in the Finger Lakes Region.

“It’s a nice feeling to have, a nice distinction to have at this point – especially given that just several weeks ago we were not only the worst positivity rate in the Finger Lakes Region, but we were competing for the worst in the state,” Landers said during the regular meeting of the County Legislature via Zoom videoconferencing. “It’s nice to see the turnaround and that our positivity rate is below 3 percent.”

He called it a “quick turnaround” and said it is due to “all the hard work we have been doing in this community in terms of messaging, distancing and the testing and the vaccination.”

On another front, he said the Genesee County Police Reform and Reinvention Draft Report has been posted on the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office page of the county’s website -- Welcome to County of Genesee.

He encouraged residents to look it over and provide feedback by sending an email to: [email protected]

“I’ve gotten some comments already and I welcome more,” he said.

The Genesee County Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative has set its next meeting for 6 p.m. Feb. 23 (via Zoom) -- not on the 22nd as originally scheduled due to some members being unable to attend.

A resolution to accept the report is expected to be considered by the Public Service Committee on March 15, a couple weeks before it needs to be submitted to the New York State Office of Management and Budget.

In official action, the legislature:

  • Voted in favor of accepting an $11,100 grant from the Rochester Area Community Foundation’s Muriel H. Marshall Fund to launch the CallHub pilot program for the county’s Office for the Aging.

To be utilized over the remainder of this year, the grant will allow the Office for the Aging to help people safely connect with phone calls going through CallHub, a secure web-based tool that makes communication between individuals and groups of people easier, quicker and safer through a designated phone number.

The resolution that was passed indicated that CallHub is an application that allows for improved program management for staff and volunteer-based programs, through mass messaging and real-time data collection and monthly reporting capabilities.

OFA Director Diana Fox said the office’s “safe” number appears on the caller ID, keeping the caller's personal number private.

“This is advantageous for volunteer-based programs and staff working remotely due to the pandemic,” she stated.

  • Approved amendments pertaining to the payment schedule of 2021 contracts with The Mental Health Association of Genesee & Orleans Counties, Restoration Society, Living Opportunities of DePaul, Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, and Arc of Genesee Orleans.

Per New York State requirements, regular payments to these agencies should be paid quarterly, not monthly as the current contracts stipulate.

As a result of the legislation, quarterly payments will be as follows:

The Mental Health Association of Genesee & Orleans Counties, $95,142.75; Restoration Society, $71,113.50; Living Opportunities of DePaul, $11,201.25; GCASA, $387,668.25; Arc of Genesee Orleans, $10,436.25.

Landers said funds provided to these organizations are “pass-through” from the state.

“This is not what we traditionally consider outside agency funding,” he said. “When we refer to outside agency funding we refer to Genesee County taxpayer-supported funding for agencies such as the Holland Land Office or GO ART!”

February 3, 2021 - 5:57pm

Whether you call it “refunding” or “refinancing,” Genesee County stands to save a pile of money by consolidating a couple loans and reworking the payment plan.

Speaking at the Genesee County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee meeting via Zoom videoconferencing this afternoon, County Treasurer Scott German said the municipality may have the opportunity to save more than $20,000 in interest costs over the next 13 years.

“It’s called refunding, but for us, regular folks, it’s refinancing,” German said. “We’re going to refinance two of our existing debts.”

The two debts in question, both Public Improvement Serial Bonds, are from 2009 and 2014, totaling $2,050,000 and $4,745,847, respectively.

German said there are four years left on the 2009 debt, but “doing that one by itself wouldn’t be worth it because the cost would be prohibitive.”

So, working with Financial Advisors of Syracuse and the bond counsel firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe of New York City, the county is prepared to put the two loans together and, if interest rates are favorable when the time comes to refinance in September, it could result in a net savings of $263,819.63.

“We technically can’t refinance that until September, so all we’re doing right now is taking care of all the paperwork – getting that out of the way – so when the market looks good in September, we’ll go to market,” he said. “If the rates go up between now and then, we won’t do it. We’ll just pull it.”

Committee members approved a resolution authorizing the debt consolidation with the goal of realizing a savings in interest fees.

In other action, the committee recommended approval of an affiliation agreement with Brockport State College for Rebecca Nigro to participate in and complete an internship that will help her complete her master’s degree in Public Administration.

It was reported that Nigro is in her last semester and is carrying a 3.95 grade-point average.

The college approved the internship as long as the county had someone with a master’s degree to oversee Nigro’s activity. Nigro works for the county, serving as the supervisor/cluster care for the Department of Social Services.

January 27, 2021 - 6:55pm

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said he finds some good and some bad with the proposed New York State fiscal year 2022 budget with the “good” connected to a suggestion made by Genesee County officials to loosen the restrictions on municipal investments.

“A suggestion that actually came from Genesee County was the ability to invest our money a little more, I don’t want to say aggressively, (but) the restrictions that governments – counties and municipalities – in New York State had was one of the most restrictive in the nation,” said Landers, reporting to the Genesee County Legislature this afternoon during its meeting via Zoom videoconferencing.

Landers said if Gov. Andrew Cuomo ultimately accepts the suggestion to give local governments more flexibility in their investments, it could lead to a six-figure increase on Genesee County’s bottom line.

“I don’t have an exact figure, you’d have to talk to Treasurer Scott German about that, but I do know that we budgeted $150,000 in 2021 and that was just in the general fund,” Landers said, noting that investments are volatile depending upon interest rates.

Last summer, Landers and German looked into the county’s investment strategies – it has a contract with the three+one firm out of Pittsford – and found out that New York’s investment regulations were the most restrictive in the nation.

“I passed that along to NYSAC (New York State Association of Counties) and they passed it along to the (NYS) Division of Budget, and lo and behold, it came out as one of the governor’s suggestions in his budget to loosen up the restrictions,” Landers said. “So, there’s evidence that ideas coming out of Genesee County can actually have an impact on the state.”

Landers said news of the governor’s support in the investment arena puts the county in prime position to generate additional revenues.

“I’m sure Scott will be pleased to put three+one to work if we get this additional relief in how we can do investments,” he said.

Sticking with the “good” part of the state budget, Landers said the county now is projecting a 5-percent reduction in state aid – down from the 20 percent it put in its 2021 budget.

“This is assuming that the state gets $6 billion in stimulus money from the federal government,” he said. “If the state gets nothing, then we would be looking at the 20 percent (decrease).”

Landers also mentioned the state’s reconfiguration of its Aid and Incentives for Municipalities program – action that will affect counties that have towns and villages receiving AIM funds.

“We’re still trying to figure out how the AIM impact will be – the state is shifting – taking some of the sales tax proceeds from counties and making towns and villages whole through AIM,” he said. “More than half the counties are going to benefit from this shift, but some counties are going to be hurt depending on the makeup within their county of municipalities that are receiving AIM.”

The county manager also reported that the allocation of the county’s extra 1 percent in sales tax no longer will need state approval, but on the “bad” side, said the county is looking at the possibility of losing $160,000 in Video Lottery Terminal revenue generated by patrons at Batavia Downs Gaming.

In legislative action, the board implemented a Rule 19 resolution to ratify prior measures that grant Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein emergency powers as they pertain to financially protecting non-county workers – both volunteer and professional -- at COVID-19 testing clinics.

The resolution gives Stein authority in two circumstances beyond a Jan. 14 resolution that granted emergency powers for the chair to execute necessary COVID-19 documents – an agreement for services for COVID-19 volunteers and an agreement for paid services for COVID-19.

On another front, the legislature set a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. on April 28 at the Genesee County Old Courthouse as part of the mandated eight-year review of Agricultural District No. 4.

The district was created in December 1980 and, under Article 25AA of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, Section 303-a, it must be reviewed eight years after the date of creation and every eight years thereafter. Property in Agricultural District No. 4 is located in the towns of Byron, Bergen, Elba, Stafford and Le Roy.

In other action, the legislature passed the following resolutions:

  • A construction contract with Union Concrete and Construction Corp, West Seneca, in the amount of $1,767,387 to replace bridges on Meadville Road over Canal Feeder in the Town of Alabama, Sharrick Road over Murder Creek in the Town of Darien, and Tower Hill Road over Spring Creek in the Town of Byron.

The resolution also called for a consultant agreement with CHA Consulting Inc., of Buffalo, for the three projects for an amount not to exceed $340,000.

Union Concrete and Construction Corp. submitted a bid that was around $400,000 less than the engineer’s estimate of construction costs. Ninety-five percent of the capital project will be paid by federal aid, with a 5 percent local match taken from the 1 percent sales tax fund.

  • A consultant agreement with C&S Companies, Rochester, for an amount not to exceed $109,000 in connection with the replacement of the Upton Road over Bowen Creek bridge in the Town of Batavia.

Work, which will be covered by federal aid at the 95 percent level, is expected to start immediately.

  • Payment of $4,535 in costs related to dental surgery for K9 Rayzor, with fund coming from the K-9 Donations Reserve Account (gifts and donations that were made to the K-9 program).

Expenses consisted of $2,317 for the surgery plus costs for his handler’s lodging, vehicle fuel and food to transport Rayzor to the hospital where the surgery was performed, as well as a recovery bed for the dog.

  • A contract extension through Dec. 31 with the New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services, Albany, in the amount of $170,672.

This money funds the county’s full-time assistant public defender, part-time assistant public defender, investigator and paralegal’s salary and fringe benefits as well as a parity stipend for an assistant public defender, cell phone service for one, landline telephone service for two, the investigator’s mileage and investigation online service software.

  • Contracts with SkyMark Refuelers LLC, Kansas City, Kan., in the amount of $324,590 for ground service equipment, broken down as follows: $189,600 for a Jet-A refueler (diesel option) and $134,990 for an AvGas refueler (diesel option).

The cost for these contracts is partially covered by a state grant.

  • A change order to a contract with Suburban Electric, Albion, in the amount of $65,302 in connection with work being done at pump stations in Churchville and Mumford to expand water supply capacity under Phase 2 of the Countywide Water Supply Program.

The change order calls for the installation of a different Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) within the Motor Control Center (MCC); eliminating the power management system; modifying the MCC; increasing the height of the telemetry tower from 50 to 70 feet, adding an additional telemetry tower at the Riga Pump Station and adding a backup power system for the MCC.      

This is the second change order on this contract and brings the total contract cost to $832,984.50. The original award of the contract was for $759,000.

  • Allocation of up to $300,000 to support the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce for publicity and tourism services connected to the “I Love New York” program through Dec. 31.

Funds from the county’s 2021 hotel and motel tax receipts (bed tax) will be used, with the stipulation that the county will only fund tourism activity to the extent actual revenues from bed tax are realized, not to exceed the fiscal year appropriation of $300,000.

  • The creation of two temporary full-time clerk-typist positions, effective from Jan. 25 until July 23. The clerk typist salary and fringe ($38,707) are allocated in the 2021 Health Department budget.

The position’s salary is partially funded by state aid/performance funds. The cost to the county will be approximately $22,158.

January 27, 2021 - 5:33pm
posted by Press Release in news, genesee county legislature.

Press release:

The Genesee County Legislature will begin a phased-in process of resuming in-person meetings beginning Monday, Feb. 1. Legislators and administration will meet in-person with all others participating via Zoom videoconference.

Starting March 1st, department heads and persons scheduled to present to a standing committee or the full legislature will meet in-person along with legislators and administration.

In April, the public may be added to in-person meetings which will be held in the third floor Legislative Chambers at the Old Courthouse, 7 Main St., Batavia. A face mask covering the nose and mouth is required and everyone entering the building will sign in and out.

"The Genesee County Legislature is taking steps forward in a cautious and calculated manner while closely monitoring every health metric," said Legislature Chairperson Rochelle Stein. “We will proceed by following Public Health advice on a prudent reopening plan and will continue to monitor outcomes and be prepared to pivot back to remote meetings if required."

January 8, 2021 - 12:23pm

The Genesee County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee has agreed to give Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein the authority to sign documents related to the COVID-19 pandemic that need prompt attention without prior formal consent of the full board.

At a meeting via Zoom videoconferencing on Wednesday, Stein referred to a memorandum of understanding from the New York State Health Department that “came very quickly (this week) and in order for Genesee County to receive COVID vaccine this had to be turned around immediately,” she said.

“This is actually on our agenda today as a ratification of my prior signature. This really helps the public health department to keep the process rolling so that Genesee County has the opportunity for that vaccine to be delivered here locally.”

Stein reasoned that while in the pandemic, the county must act quickly and prudently to support the health department.

“So, in consultation with our public health department and our county manager and the county attorney – once having all of their approvals to sign this MOU – I did provide my signature,” she said. “If there are other COVID-related agreements that need to be signed very quickly, such as this, I think that I would feel better as the chair having the weight of the rest of the legislature with me as I take that on.”

Therefore, she asked for the committee’s approval to sign these types of documents, only as they relate to COVID-19.

Committee members were in full agreement, with Ways & Means Chair Marianne Clattenburg noting that she believed Stein already had this authority during emergency situations.

“And she’s not going to sign anything where any funds are expended or anything like that,” Clattenburg added.

The recent MOU with the state DOH to ensure distribution and administration of the vaccine by the Genesee County Health Department was time sensitive, prompting County Attorney Kevin Earl to render an opinion “that under these exigent circumstances to obtain vaccine that is crucial to the health and welfare of Genesee County residents, the Chair could sign the MOU, subject to ratification and approval of the terms and conditions by the full Legislature.”

Legislators Gary Maha, Christian Yunker, John Deleo and Gregg Torrey spoke in favor of the request, with Torrey asking if a formal resolution was needed to put this plan into action.

At that point, Earl said he was first looking for a consensus and then will draft a resolution to be considered at the next full legislature meeting (on Jan. 13).

Legislator Gordon Dibble said he wanted to make sure that the legislature was informed in a “timely fashion” when these situations arise and Stein assured him that would be the case.

Clattenburg, speaking directly to Stein, said lawmakers have “total confidence in you and you’re doing a great job.”

“We want to thank you on behalf of all our citizens for the work that you are doing as the chair. This is something that I know you didn’t anticipate last January,” Clattenburg added.

Stein thanked legislators and county employees for pulling together during some trying times.

“We could not do this without a full team effort and everyone working on behalf of the citizens of Genesee County,” she said. “It really is amazing what you can do when you decide to work together.”

January 6, 2021 - 4:19pm

Update: 5:30 p.m.

The Ways & Means Committee did approve the resolution as indicated below, sending the measure to next Wednesday’s meeting of the full Genesee County Legislature for final approval.

Committee Chair Marianne Clattenburg praised Brooks Hawley’s work during his time on City Council.

“I think he has a good grasp of local government and I’m looking forward to working with him, as we all are,” she said.

Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein said that the leaders of the towns of Batavia and Stafford came together to give their “unanimous support” to Hawley.

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

If all goes according to plan at this afternoon’s Genesee County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee meeting, Brooks Hawley will be one step closer to returning to a position in local government.

A resolution on the Ways & Means agenda has Hawley filling the vacancy on the legislature that was caused by the recent resignation of Andrew Young, who now is a Batavia Town justice.

Hawley is expected to be appointed to represent the towns of Batavia and Stafford (District 4), effective Jan. 13 -- when he will be sworn in at the full legislature meeting -- and running through 2021.

He will be eligible to run for election in November and, if elected, would serve the final two years of the District 4 term.

“I’m very excited to represent both towns and am looking forward to serving my community,” said Hawley, 44. “Having lived in the Town of Batavia for about four years now, I have joined the Batavia Republican Committee and last year became an alternate member of the Town Planning Board.”

It was in December 2016 when Hawley stepped out of the political arena by resigning his Councilman-at-Large seat on the Batavia City Council due to relocating his family out of the city and into the home of his late grandfather, state Assemblyman R. Stephen Hawley, in the Town of Batavia.

At the time, the former City Council president said, “I'm not leaving and going away to never be heard from again” – a statement that is proving to be true.

Hawley is employed as a recreation director at Geneseo State College. He and his wife, Rhiannon, have three children, Ayla, 14; Troy, 11, and Quinn, 8.

State Assemblyman Stephen M. Hawley is his father.

In other action, Ways & Means:

  • Approved a memorandum of agreement between the county and Cornell Cooperative Extension Association of Genesee County that supports CCE in the amount of $338,548 for 2021 – the same dollar figure provided in years 2017 through 2020.
  • Extended a contract with e3communications of Buffalo through February for public relations and social media services to disseminate information in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. The county will pay the firm up to $8,000 for the two months.
  • Supported the appointments of Christi Waldron and Francis Roswick to the Office for the Aging Advisory Council, and James Sunser and Stefano Napolitano to the STOP-DWI Advisory Board.
January 4, 2021 - 6:12pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Human Services Committee, genesee county legislature.

The manner in which the first group set to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has grown in recent days makes one wonder whether the butcher, baker and candlestick maker will be the next ones to be added to the list.

Paul Pettit, public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties, today said the roster of the 1A prioritization group is “very fluid and keeps expanding, and it seems like every day.”

Speaking at the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee meeting via Zoom videoconferencing, Pettit said the 1A group now includes health-related professionals well beyond those initially identified as the most essential of the “essential” workers.

“You may recall seeing a week or two ago (that 1A) was really targeted at EMS (Emergency Medical Services) workers, frontline healthcare workers and coroners, medical examiners, funeral home directors,” he said. “Since that time, the list has grown fairly substantially, which now includes private medical practices, hospital affiliated medical practices, public health workers, dentists, other dialysis workers, diagnostic treatment centers, and also includes occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, behavioral health workers and student health workers.”

Pettit noted that other frontline health workers, home healthcare aides and related providers are in the process of being added into the first group.

“As you can see it has grown fairly large over the last week or two (and) that could change tomorrow. So, we’re currently working again with the hospital and Oak Orchard Health, which is the former Pembroke Family Medicine, … to start to vaccinate the different groups that I just mentioned under the 1A prioritization,” he said.

Pettit said the vaccine is “starting to roll out” at United Memorial Medical Center.

“They’re holding pods actually today and a couple other days this week,” he said. “We’ll be getting the vaccine hopefully tomorrow – smaller amounts – and we will be starting to work on the 1A priority group. Obviously, day by day as more vaccine comes in to the community and more providers start to come online, it will speed things up.”

Pettit reiterated what he said during a media briefing last week (as reported by The Batavian) that it will take a couple weeks to meet the demand – especially as the 1A list continues to grow.

“The focus is on the 1As and keep in mind, that once we get the 1As done, we will have to start over with their second shot as the vaccination series is 28 days apart with the Moderna vaccine,” he said. “So, essentially we’re going to be giving folks their second round while we’re trying to start with the first round of the 1B essential group. It’s going to get a little muddled there about a month from now.”

He also emphasized that nursing homes throughout the state are part of program coordinated by the NYS Department of Health in conjunction with pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens.

“They’ve gone in and have been vaccinating nursing home residents and staff. That is not anything that we have had any oversight … that is being done strictly through the state DOH,” he said.

In action related to the local health department’s efforts to COVID test, contact trace and vaccinate, the Human Services Committee approved three resolutions during today’s meeting:

  • A memorandum of understanding with the state DOH to ensure the proper distribution and administration of the vaccine by the Genesee County Health Department. The MOU is subject to ratification and approval by the full County Legislature.

“The governor is cracking down on this (adherence to making sure the vaccine is given per the state-mandate prioritization),” Pettit said. “At the moment, it (vaccine) is a scarce commodity; there’s not a lot of it out there yet and there’s a high demand for it.”

Pettit, again, talked about the stiff penalties that could be imposed, including the loss of the provider’s medical license and fines of up to $1 million for failure to comply.

“That is why that MOU … is being put in place,” he said. “It’s basically us attesting as a receiver of the vaccine that we – the county – will follow the state guidelines.”

  • The creation of two temporary full-time COVID-19 response specialist positions to assist the health department with testing, contact tracing and vaccination.

Each job, which will be in force for six months beginning Jan. 18, carries a salary and fringe benefits totaling $40,388, with those expenses to be paid with a combination of state aid reimbursement and Medicaid to State funds.

  • Acceptance of a $35,000 grant from the National Association of County and City Health Officials to the health department for contact tracing, overtime and testing expenses.

Pettit said the money isn’t enough “to carry us through to the finish line” but expects more funding to be available as a result of the passage of the federal stimulus bill.

“We have a monumental task ahead of us "over the next four to six months,” he said.

In other news, the committee reported that the Orleans County Legislature reappointed Pettit as its public health director per the two counties’ municipal agreement.

December 9, 2020 - 7:37pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, genesee county legislature.

Genesee County legislative action to schedule a public hearing on a local law to compensate coroners for time spent on extraordinary cases is welcome news to Jeff McIntire, a recently retired county medical examiner who worked 260 hours following the tragic plane crash off Boyce Road in Corfu on Oct. 2.

The crash resulted in the deaths of prominent attorney Steve Barnes, the pilot, and his niece, Elizabeth Barnes, who also practiced law.

“I’m pleased,” said McIntire, speaking by phone from his new home in West Palm Beach, Fla., where he has relocated following his Nov. 15 resignation as a county coroner. “It is good to know that if it does happen again, some provision is in place to make sure the coroner will get paid appropriately.”

Legislators, at their regular meeting tonight via Zoom videoconferencing, voted in favor of setting the public hearing on Local Law Introductory No. 3 for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 13 at the Old County Courthouse.

If passed, the law will enable lawmakers to consider additional pay for elected or appointed coroners for a fixed term – beyond a negotiated $100 stipend per case (deceased individual) – when a catastrophic event occurs.

County coroners also receive an annual stipend of $1,500 – paid throughout the year on regular paydays – but do not receive mileage reimbursement.

McIntire not only worked an inordinate number of hours during the plane crash investigation, but also lost wages as a result of not being able to work his regular job.

“As coroners, we understand that it’s not a job that you get into to make money, but on the other hand, this was a situation where wages were lost,” he said.

Apparently, legislators agree and have taken steps to instill some flexibility into future compensatory matters.

McIntire, who served more than five years as a county coroner, said he plans to submit his hours to Genesee County as the proposed law stipulates that “any coroner may submit a claim retroactively to Oct. 3, 2020, by a submittal in writing, which details the services rendered and the times and dates of the same.”

An emergency medical technician, McIntire said he is working as a full-time scuba instructor at his new residence in the Sunshine State.

County Republican Party leaders reportedly are seeking someone to replace McIntire. The other county coroners are Karen Lang, Tom Douglas and Adam Palumbo.

In other action, legislators:

-- Passed four amended resolutions relating to tax equalization tables, taxable assessed valuation tables, and tax warrants for the county’s towns and City of Batavia that slightly changed the figures due to a court-ordered assessment reduction on a parcel of land in the Town of Pembroke.

Deputy County Treasurer Kevin Andrews brought the matter to the board’s attention in time for amendments, avoiding the need to pass revised amendments at a future legislature meeting. He said that the court lowered the parcel in question’s assessment from $2.9 million to $2.6 million.

As amended, the taxes for the towns based on 2020 assessment rolls are as follows:

  • Alabama, $1,726,593.76;
  • Alexander, $2,134,938.83;
  • Batavia, $7,460,274.92;
  • Bergen, $2,821,306.39;
  • Bethany, $1,664,249.96;
  • Byron, $2,443,824.80;
  • Darien, $3,257,061.47;
  • Elba, $2,536,131.54;
  • Le Roy, $5,788,202.93;
  • Oakfield, $2,398,440.44;
  • Pavilion, $2,040,817.01;
  • Pembroke, $3,999,315.92;
  • Stafford, $2,416,914.48;
  • Total, $40,688,072.45.

The county’s share of the total amount collected for the 2021 tax year is $27,761,253.04.

The 2020 total was $39,419,355.44, with $27,734,757.10 being the County’s share.

The City of Batavia’s share of the tax levy for 2021 is $6,058,672.57, which is about $60,000 less than the 2020 tax levy.

-- As previously reported on The Batavian from a legislative committee meeting, gave formal approval to a local law setting salaries of the following county officers, effective Jan. 1:

  • Commissioner of Elections (2), $49,761;
  • Highway Superintendent, $115,110;
  • Director of Real Property Tax Services, $66,385;
  • Director of Human Resources, $80,050;
  • Commissioner of Social Services, $89,319;
  • Public Defender, $103,453;
  • County Attorney, $127,845;
  • County Clerk, $97,862.

Previous: Legislature proposes local law for discretionary coroner pay for catastrophic events

December 4, 2020 - 11:05am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, genesee county legislature, county coroner.

The Genesee County Legislature has set a public hearing for next month to adopt a local law that would give lawmakers the ability to compensate coroners more than currently allowed for time spent during catastrophic events.

Resolutions forwarded by the Ways & Means Committee to Wednesday’s full legislative meeting call for the following:

  • The scheduling of a public hearing on proposed Local Law Introductory No. 3, Year 2020, at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 13 at the Old County Courthouse in Batavia;
  • The adoption of the local law to allow discretionary compensation for services rendered during catastrophic events by elected or appointed coroners for a fixed term for the County of Genesee as introduced Dec. 9, 2020.

The measures stem from the airplane crash on Oct. 2 off Boyce Road in Corfu that claimed the lives of attorneys Steve Barnes and his niece, Elizabeth Barnes.

Coroner Jeff McIntire of Oakfield reportedly put in 260 hours on that case but, as the law stands now, is eligible to receive $200, based on $100 per case (or deceased individual). The pay increases to $150 per case on observed holidays.

The county’s four coroners also receive an annual stipend of $1,500 – paid throughout the year on regular paydays – but no mileage.

McIntire informed county officials of the situation, prompting the decision to put forth a new local law that gives the legislature some flexibility regarding compensation in unusual circumstances, County Manager Matt Landers said.

“It’s something that I don’t believe was thought of when the compensation was put in place for our coroners,” Landers said. “We’re trying to make this local law … so the legislature can determine what an extraordinary event is and what they want to compensate. Every case can be different, and we don’t want to end up in the future having to change the local law again because we were too restrictive.”

McIntire received a commendation from the legislature for his work (along with a team of responders) at the scene.

He resigned on Nov. 15 after serving more than five years as a county coroner. Landers said McIntire had planned to resign before the crash as he looks to relocate to Florida.

McIntire, who also is assistant chief of the Oakfield Fire Department, did not respond to phone calls from The Batavian seeking comment.

Landers said without this local law, legislators' hands are tied.

“Right now, there really is no ability for this legislature to legally give any compensation above and beyond what he was paid because of the local law that we have,” he said.

Karen Lang, Tom Douglas and Adam Palumbo are the other county coroners. Republican Party leaders are in the process of finding a replacement for McIntire.

The resolution’s specific wording as is follows:

Section 1.  In addition to the existing compensation for Genesee County Coroners that are elected or appointed for a fixed term, the Genesee County Legislature is hereby authorized to provide additional compensation when Coroners provide extraordinary services above and beyond their normal duties after a catastrophic event leading to the death of one or more individuals within Genesee County.          

Section 2:  The determination as to whether or not an event qualifies as catastrophic; as well as the determination as to the amount to be paid to Coroners for extraordinary services, shall be made in the sole discretion of the Genesee County Legislature.

Section 3.  Any Coroner may submit a claim retroactively to October 3, 2020, by a submittal in writing, which details the services rendered and the times and dates of the same. 

Section 4.  This Local Law is subject to referendum on petition pursuant to the provisions of Section 24 of the Municipal Home Rule Law.

Section 5.  This Local Law shall take effect upon proper filing with the Office of the Secretary of State.

December 3, 2020 - 9:39am

The Genesee County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday recommended distribution of more than $400,000 in mortgage tax revenue to the county’s towns, villages and City of Batavia.

The resolution will be considered by the full legislature on Dec. 9.

County Clerk Michael Cianfrini and Treasurer Scott German reported that $418,882.58 is available to be dispersed to the municipalities as the second such payment in 2020. The amount is about $26,000 more than the second distribution in 2019.

Mortgage tax money per municipality is as follows:

City

Batavia -- $95,905.39

Towns

Alabama -- $11,089.24

Alexander -- $13,616.07

Batavia -- $48,557.18

Bergen -- $30,595.20

Bethany -- $11,101.99

Byron -- $10,696.76

Darien -- $24,213.72

Elba -- $12,788.20

Le Roy -- $54,789.53

Oakfield -- $12,464.24

Pavilion -- $16,056.13

Pembroke -- $29,194.08

Stafford -- $20,570.76

Villages

Alexander -- $1,402.37

Attica -- $493.46

Bergen -- $4,227.01

Elba -- $1,580.73

Le Roy -- $15,850.24

Oakfield -- $1,924.86

Corfu -- $1,765.42

In other action, the committee recommended approval of:

  • Resolutions to recoup delinquent water/sewer accounts and unpaid school and village taxes, which will be added to the 2021 tax levy as permitted by law.

The county will need to relevy $215,266.39 in outstanding water/sewer bills, with more than half of that amount ($142,941.72) from the Town of Batavia.

Other towns affected are Alabama ($6,351.53), Alexander ($1,138.64), Bergen ($1,187.11), Byron ($36,829.40), Darien ($13,504.56), Elba ($2,027.66), Oakfield ($995.45), Pavilion ($9,852.56), Pembroke ($309.31) and Stafford ($128.45).

The county’s share of the total amount collected is $14,082.80.

In 2020, the total was $172,303.13 with $11,272.23 being the county’s share.

Per Real Property Tax law, more than $1.8 million in unpaid school taxes are to be returned to the county for inclusion in the 2021 county and town tax levy.

The amounts not paid range from $429,215.50 in the Town of Le Roy to $66,864.83 in the Town of Bethany, with the Town of Batavia reporting $99,100.70.

The county makes the school districts whole for their portion and retains a 7-percent fee. The 2020 total was $2,265,897.64.

On the village tax side, unpaid taxes to be levied again amount to $164,023.11 – ranging from $137,935.92 in the Village of Le Roy to $601.35 in the Village of Elba.

Again, the county makes the villages whole for their portion and retains a 7-percent fee. The 2020 total was $199,731.83.

  • A resolution to renew a contract with the Genesee County Economic Development Center for 2021 that calls for county support of $233,513 to the agency, the same amount as 2020.

The sum shall be paid in regular installments and is subject to an “out clause” just put into outside agency contracts that gives the county the right to withhold funding in emergency situations.

  • A five-year lease with Genesee County Job Development Bureau for the continued operation of the Genesee County Career Center at the Eastown Plaza in Batavia, effective Feb. 1, at an annual cost of $126,000.

The amount is $9,108 more than the current lease, but there will be no increase in costs to the county since rent payments are covered by grant and fee-for-service funding.

  • A resolution to appoint Kathleen Carlson (Byron-Bergen), Erik Fix (Le Roy/Stafford) and Caris Carlson (youth representative) to the Genesee County Youth Board for terms running from Jan. 1, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2023.
December 1, 2020 - 12:31pm

The Human Services and Ways & Means committees of the Genesee County Legislature on Monday recommended the appointments of several persons to the Mental Health Community Services Board and the Office for the Aging Advisory Council.

Batavians James Owen and MaryElla Loos were reappointed to the mental health board, with their terms expiring on Dec. 31, 2024.

Three persons were appointed to assume three vacant positions on the same board.

They are Dr. Mary Obear of Corfu (through Aug. 14, 2022), Kathleen Antonelli of Batavia (through Dec. 31, 2021) and Diana Fox of Holley (through Dec. 31, 2022).

Fox is the current director of the Office for the Aging.

Each will receive a $40 stipend per meeting.

Margaret Weissend, RN, director of rural branch operations for Kaleida Health, was reappointed to a voluntary seat on the Office for the Aging Advisory Council for a three-year term, effective Jan. 1.

In a separate matter, Legislator Gary Maha commended Matt Worth on his retirement after nearly 34 years as a City of Batavia employee, the last six as public works director.

“I worked very closely (with Matt) on a number of issues here with the county – such as the water agreement and sales tax agreement – and as a member of the Genesee County Water Resources Agency. He is a wealth of information.”

Worth’s last official day is Jan. 15.

November 30, 2020 - 8:26pm

In a move designed as a safeguard against unforeseen economic calamity, Genesee County is modifying its 2021 funding contracts with outside agencies.

The Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services and Public Service committees today recommended approval of contracts with the Holland Land Office Museum, PathStone Inc., Nioga Library System and Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District – all with new wording that gives the county an out clause.

A similar pact with Cornell Cooperative Extension Association of Genesee County was withdrawn, however, to give the agency’s board of directors more time to review the changes.

“The language change is simply putting in a clause that allows for the county to withhold funding in the event of an emergency,” County Manager Matt Landers said. “It is standard language we are putting in all of our contracts.”

Landers said that since the contract for CCE is forwarded “outside of our area to Cornell University, we haven’t allowed for enough time for proper review by CCE’s board.”

“We are just giving them some additional time to review,” he said, adding that the county attorney is working with CCE to make sure the latter has plenty of time to look at the recommended changes. He said he plans to reintroduce a modified resolution in January.

Additionally, the county will be making monthly or quarterly payments instead of one annual payment, Landers said.

“With some of the prior agreements, even (with) a clause to withhold funding, if we gave them all the money up front, it really wouldn’t do any good,” he explained. “So, we’re going through and streamlining so that payments are either going to be monthly or quarterly, and then also having a clause with the standard language that we’re putting in -- a 21-day notification.”

In response to a question from Legislator Marianne Clattenburg about the specifics of a 21-day clause, Landers and County Attorney Kevin Earl said it was inserted into the contracts to give the county flexibility.

“We’re trying to reassure partners that we’re not looking to pull the rug out from under them, but we’re just looking to not be in a position where we are required to continue funding when our funding technically dries up,” Landers said.

Earl added that it gives the outside agencies “time to react” to the withholding of funding.

“We can completely stop all the payments or any part of the payments,” he said, acknowledging that any action would have to be approved by the legislature per a resolution.

Details of the various contracts are as follows:

-- Holland Land Office Museum

The county will enter into agreement with the Holland Purchase Historical Society Inc. for the operation of the museum and programming for 2021 at an annual cost of $33,554 – the same level of funding as the past four years. Payments will be made on a monthly basis.

When asked if the amount of funding was adequate, Landers said the museum, as is the case with the other outside agencies, is “getting by.”

“I’m sure they could do more with more, but they’re making it stretch, and providing an excellent service in the community for the money that we give them,” he said.

-- PathStone Inc.

The 2021 contract with PathStone Corporation of Rochester for housing support and consulting service calls for the county to provide up to $12,150 in funding – an annual amount equal to what was authorized over the past four years.

-- Nioga Library System.

This agreement supports the Nioga Library System with $41,680 for 2021 in quarterly payments. This, too, is the same amount provided by the county in 2020.

The Nioga Library System is comprised of 21 libraries in Niagara, Orleans and Genesee counties, including Richmond Memorial Library in Batavia, Haxton Memorial Library in Oakfield, Corfu Public Library, Hollwedel Memorial Library in Pavilion, Byron-Bergen Public Library, and Woodward Memorial Library in Le Roy.

In September, The Batavian reported that Nioga officials anticipated a 25 percent or more cut in funding from New York State in 2021.

-- Soil and Water Conservation District

The county has agreed to support the agency to the tune of $151,891 for 2021, with payments made in regular installments.

One of 58 such districts in the state, the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District provides services and funds projects related to the conservation of soil and water resources, improvement of water quality, preservation of wildlife habitat and management of soil erosion.

-- Cornell Cooperative Extension

For the fifth straight year, the county is offering sponsorship in the amount of $338,548 per a memorandum of agreement with CCE.

The agency, with its office in Batavia, is in the process of hiring a new executive director. Interviews of finalists Jocelyn Sikorski of Batavia and Julianna Frisch of Brockport were scheduled to be conducted earlier today via Zoom videoconferencing.

November 30, 2020 - 5:46pm

The number of COVID-19 cases in Genesee County has reached a new plateau, the county’s public health director reported this afternoon.

Speaking at the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee meeting via Zoom videoconferencing, Paul Pettit said positive cases in the month of November have pushed the total to more than 1,000 since the outbreak of the pandemic.

“Today, unfortunately, we will be announcing that we crossed over that thousand number threshold of positive cases since the beginning,” Pettit said, adding that about 500 or 600 have come during this month.

Pettit said the health department’s message of social distancing, smaller gathering and wearing a mask is as important as ever.

“We all know people who have had it and some people with more severe cases, too. So, again, it’s a little more troubling of a trend that we’re trying to keep an eye on and do our best to keep educating and hope people will adhere to the advice,” he said.

He also reported on the number of Genesee County residents who are hospitalized at this time with COVID-19.

“I think we have 12 people right now that are hospitalized as Genesee County residents, but they’re not necessarily in Genesee County -- they may be in Rochester or Buffalo hospitals,” he said, noting that a dozen hospitalizations translate to about 8 percent of the 130 to 140 active cases.

“Obviously, we went through a period where we didn’t have anybody in the hospital. Once someone gets hospitalized, they’re obviously having enough issues – breathing or some other secondary issue that they can’t manage at home.”

Pettit said the county averaged about 35 cases per day over the holiday break, which is equivalent to 425 to 450 in Monroe County. He said the numbers are “fairly high” and they could jump significantly if the “potential Thanksgiving bump that has been predicted” transpires.

“We should know by the end of the week into early next week if we’re going to have a lot of additional cases stemming from the holiday gatherings. We’ll be watching that closely,” he said.

He also said the heath department is working on a plan for rapid asymptomatic testing, as well as a strategy to deliver vaccine that will be arriving in the next week or two.

“I don’t expect to see a lot of it (vaccine) on the front end; it will be very targeted toward our highest-risk folks,” he advised.

Overall, Genesee County’s numbers are some of the highest in the Finger Lakes Region, Pettit said.

“We’re working hard trying to get those down and, again, a lot of that is going to come down to personal behavior – wearing masks and reducing density and mass gatherings,” he said.

As far as staffing, Pettit said the health department has added two employees and another will be starting soon.

"These are full-time temporary positions that have been created over the last month (with legislature approval) to assist with COVID response activities, and they 100-percent funded by a COVID grant," Pettit said. "These positions will help with case investigations, contact tracing, data entry and phone calls. We have hired an individual for the COVID specialist position, starting later this week, and will be interviewing this week for the financial clerk position."

In a related development, the committee recommended approval of a resolution to accept a $13,566 grant from the state Department of Health to support flu and COVID-19 response activities, with Pettit advising that a large portion of the funding will be used to cover employees' overtime.

The award, good through June 30, will be added to the health department's 2021 budget by another resolution in January, Pettit said.

November 19, 2020 - 11:05am

young_2.jpgUpdate, 1:30 p.m., with comments from Andrew Young:

"The justice position alllows me to continue to serve in a different capacity. It's something that I've always wanted to do at some point ... but the opportunity arose and it just seemed to make sense now," he said.

"From the legal perspective, I'm going to start an intense training program for the things that I don't know. But I think, more importantly, for this position, it's more about sound judgment and the right attitude than it is legal proceeding knowledge. There is plenty of assistance and support out there, I would guess that every town judge in the state -- 99 percent of them -- is not a lawyer, so they have a good program to train you and help you understand, procedurally, how to do things."

Young said he is looking forward to a new challenge, adding that he is confident that someone will be able to step into the legislative role.

"I'm really proud of the service that I have provided (as a legislator)," he said. "One thing is sure, my heart was in it, and was passionate about my opinions of how things should go."

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

Andrew Young is stepping down from the Genesee County Legislature to accept the Batavia Town justice position.

The Batavia Town Board, at its meeting on Wednesday night via Zoom videoconferencing, passed a resolution appointing Young, 51, to the bench as a result of the resignation of current Town Justice Michael Cleveland, effective Nov. 27.

Young’s term will run through Dec. 31, 2021. The annual salary is $28,000.

The town board also passed a related resolution that adds Young’s name and new title to the document, “Town of Batavia Official Undertaking of Municipal Officers.”

Young has yet to respond to a telephone call and emails from The Batavian, which received the following notice from Assemblyman Steven Hawley last night about the vacancy*:

Individuals interested in possible Republican endorsement to fill upcoming vacancy on Genesee County Legislature, District 4, Towns of Batavia & Stafford should submit letter of interest & resume to: [email protected] & [email protected]. No later than 11/28 @ 5 p.m.

Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein, contacted by telephone, said she respected Young’s work as the representative of the towns of Batavia and Stafford. Young also is the chair of the Public Service Committee and is the legislative liaison to the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with him and to know him,” Stein said. “His viewpoints as he served as a legislator, I truly valued. I am happy to consider him a friend due to serving in local government, and I wish him all the luck.”

Stein, who said that she expects that the legislature will be receiving a resignation letter from Young in the coming days, said that Young “demonstrated a leadership that will be missed.”

Young, owner of Reliant Real Estate in Batavia and a real property owner/manager, has served on the governing body since Jan. 1, 2014. His current term runs through Dec. 31, 2024.

Previously, he was co-owner of Pakhound Parcel Logistics and P.W. Minor Shoe Factory.

*Editor's note: We posted Hawley's solicitation solely for Town of Batavia Justice applicants on Nov. 3:

GOP candidates wanted to serve as Justice of Town of Batavia Court, Cleveland resigns

November 18, 2020 - 6:11pm

Some late changes to the 2021 Genesee County budget require using a bit more of the municipality’s fund balance, but they won’t affect the property tax levy or tax rate, County Manager Matt Landers said this afternoon.

The county legislature’s Ways & Means Committee forwarded resolutions to both amend and adopt the $143,204,679 All Funds spending plan and to finalize the tax levy at its next full meeting on Nov. 23.

Per the resolution, the budget as presented and amended calls for $31,451,727 to be raised by property taxes – an increase of $400,069 from 2020 – and a tax rate of $9.80 per thousand of assessed value.

Landers said that $2,407,767 is being appropriated from the fund balance to help get the tax rate to that figure, which is 31 cents less than the 2020 tax rate. The fund balance amount is $607,732 more than what was allocated in 2020.

The county’s General Fund budget figure is at $110,276,137.

Landers mentioned the major changes to the budget, which were implemented after a final review by management and departmental leaders.

“Most of the budget changes are due to a recent contract settlement with our AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL–CIO) union, which represents the highway and facilities management employees,” he said. “My proposed budget had the costs sitting in the contingency account, but since we settled the contract we are going to move the funds into the appropriate departmental lines.”

Landers said that some costs in the mental health budget were under-budgeted as officials attempted to gauge the decrease in reimbursements from New York State. Additionally, changes were made on both the revenue and expense side in the public defender’s office in light of the county’s five-year plan.

“We are utilizing additional fund balance in the 2021 budget to cover this. The changes don’t impact the tax levy or the tax rate at all,” he reported.

Ways & Means Committee Chair Marianne Clattenburg thanked Landers and his team for conducting “a very smooth budget process considering the times that we’re in.”

“I appreciate the give-and-take from everyone and I think we did a good job with this budget,” she said.

The committee also set a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. Dec. 9 on a local law to approve the salaries of county officers who are elected or appointed for a fix term in accordance with a section of the Municipal Home Rule Law.

The salaries of these officers, which will take effect Jan. 1, are as follows:

  • Commissioner of Elections (2) -- $49,761;
  • Highway Superintendent -- $115,110;
  • Director of Real Property Tax Services -- $66,385;
  • Director of Human Resources -- $80,050;
  • Commissioner of Social Services -- $89,319;
  • Public Defender -- $103,453;
  • County Attorney -- $127,845;
  • County Clerk -- $97,862.

In another development, the committee reappointed Richard Siebert of Stafford as Genesee County Republican Election Commissioner for a three-year term, effective Jan. 1.

Legislators commended Siebert, Democratic Election Commissioner Lorie Longhany and all those who worked during the recent election for a job well done as they dealt with several changes to the system while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.

November 16, 2020 - 5:40pm

The Genesee County Legislature’s Public Service Committee this afternoon approved the acceptance of a $758,980.80 bid by Concrete Applied Technologies Corp. of Alden – one of 12 bids submitted to Highway Superintendent Tim Hens – to replace the Upton Road over Bowen Creek bridge in the Town of Batavia.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, the meeting was held remotely via Zoom videoconferencing.

In a highly-competitive bidding process, CATCO’s bid was just $650 less than the next lowest bid, Hens said, adding that he is aware of the company’s solid reputation.

“We have never worked directly with them but they have been involved with the City (of Batavia) on a few projects,” he said. “They did the Main Street project about 20 years ago and they have a very good reputation. They’re a well run company and they do a lot of work in Buffalo and Rochester.”

According to the resolution that was voted upon, 95 percent of the cost will be covered by federal aid with the remaining 5 percent to come from the county’s Reserve Fund.

Hens said CATCO’s bid is $68,000 less than the engineers’ estimate of probable construction costs.

Work is expected to begin next spring or summer.

In other action, the committee:

  • Voted in favor of a one-year contract with Safe Driver Solutions of Dansville, effective Jan. 1, for federally required drug and alcohol testing, terminating a previous pact with Partners in Safety of Middletown.

Hens said a couple issues factored into the decision, including having a company closer to Genesee County and Safe Driver Solutions’ pricing procedures.

Partners in Safety charges the county for all of its drivers, even if they aren't selected for random drug and alcohol testing, he said.

“It just happens to be the timing of our renewal of our annual contract, and their (Safe Driver Solutions) pricing structure is different because they only charge you for the actual people who get selected randomly,” Hens said.

He explained that "the pool is actually much (larger) because the way they operate under federal rules, they basically create a driver pool with all of their clients – so we get lumped in with the towns in Livingston County and Livingston County highway.”

“It’s a bigger group of people so we’re not hitting as many employees on an annual basis, and essentially not getting charged for that.”

Hens said he anticipates saving around $1,000 annual with Safe Driver Solutions and likes the fact that the county will be working with a local company to address issues concerning screening, post-accident responses and reasonable suspicious responses. Per the contract, Safe Driver Solutions staff members travel to the highway department to do the testing.

  • Voted to add a second citizen representative to the Criminal Justice Advisory Council, following up on CJAC’s decision at a meeting in September to make the committee as diverse as possible.

To make room for the citizen rep, the Genesee County Bar Association delegate has been removed in light of the appointee’s recent retirement and a sufficient number of attorneys and law enforcement members on the committee.

The CJAC, created in 1981, services to promote public good and safety through improved coordination and cooperation among criminal justice agencies and other organizations in the community. More than 30 people from law enforcement, human services and social services agencies are on the committee. 

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