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gensee county

February 7, 2013 - 11:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in gensee county.

Press release:

Genesee County’s annual “State of the County” is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, in the Chambers of the Old Court House. Chair of the Genesee County Legislature Mary Pat Hancock will deliver the address.

This year’s address will focus on major trends impacting local county governments and how Genesee County is dealing with these trends.  “Changes are so significant that they impact every department and employee, as well as all of our citizens.”

All are cordially invited and encouraged to attend. Light refreshments will be available.

August 1, 2012 - 8:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in music, entertainment, gensee county.

The music industry has apparently found a new source of revenue: taxpayers.

ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) is, according to County Attorney Chuck Zambito, asking local governments to sign a licensing agreement for public performances of music and pay an annual fee for the privilege.

The fee varies based on population.

Legislator Ray Cianfrini called the fee "shakedown money" in the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.

The committee voted 4-1 (Cianfrini voted no) to sign the agreement and pay ASCAP an annual fee of $637.

The license agreement will protect the county from an ASCAP-initiated lawsuit over any public performances of music on county property, but also limits what the county can allow without additional licenses.

For example, the county can't host a community orchestra or band on its property without paying an additional licensing fee.

The license agreement also requires regular reporting of any events on county property -- such as the Holland Land Office Museum or the nursing home -- where music is played along with a copy of any program that goes with the event. If a band or DJ performs, the county must disclose the performer, provide contact information, and disclose whether the performer is licensed by ASCAP to perform ASCAP-licensed music.

"This is being discussed in every county in the state and most of them are saying they're just going to do it because it's not that much money and they don't want to fight it," Zambito said. "If we don't sign it, they're going to come around and see us."

According to Zambito, local governments that have refused to sign the agreement have already received visits from ASCAP auditors.

The penalty, according to a brochure published by ASCAP, for performing copyrighted music without permission is from $750 to $30,000 per song.

According to the brochure, a public performance of music is:

The Copyright Law defines a public performance as one “in a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gath- ered.”

The law requires a license for all public performances, whether from a recording or by a live musician. 

ASCAP is only one licensing agency and doesn't own licensing rights to all of the songs currently under copyright. There's also BMI, for example, and Zambito said so far BMI hasn't started contacting local governments.

The license fee is some formula created by ASCAP, Zambito said, based on population and other factors.

"The bottom line is they just came up with some artificial number just to get money out of you," Zambito said.

December 19, 2009 - 12:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in gensee county, Sheriff's Office.

sheriffsawards11.jpg

Deputy Ronald E. Meides, right, with Sheriff Gary Maha, was named the Genesee County Sheriff's Office 2009 Officer of the Year today during a luncheon at the department's Park Road facility.

The Distinguished Service Award went to Senior Emergency Services Dispatcher Gary D. Diegelman. Pictured left to right below: Steven Sharp announcing the award, Director of Emergency Communications while Undersheriff Bill Sheron, honoree Diegelman, Sheriff Maha and Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble.

sheriffsawards10.jpg

More pictures and the complete list of award winners after the jump:

June 15, 2009 - 9:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in gensee county, public safety committee.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman told the County Legislature's Public Safety Committee this afternoon that he isn't too concerned about his assistants serving local towns as stand-in prosecutors.

Legislature Ray Cianfrini, District 1, raised questions about the practice during Friedman's regular  report to the committee, but Friedman said the practice doesn't interfere with either of the two assistant DAs (of the four) who take on extra cases in the towns.

"It's the same question if an assistant D.A. wanted to go out and sell fire wood in his off hours, I wouldn't have a problem and I don't see a conflict," Friedman said.

Friedman stressed that the work the staff members are required to get done is getting done, and because of the nature of the job, they often work odd hours (such as helping law enforcement with cases late at night), that even if they respond to a town case in the middle of the day, the county's work is still getting done within the required weekly hours.

Because freshly minted attorneys can earn quite a bit of money as "assigned council" (defense attorneys), Friedman said he doesn't begrudge his attorneys making extra cash as town prosecutors.

After the meeting Cianfrini said he was satisfied with Friedman's answers, but he is still concerned about public employees moonlighting because of the pension issue -- he wants to make sure that the extra work doesn't obscure whether the public employee is putting in a full work day from a benefits standpoint.

Towns often require paid prosecutors because State Police officers are not allowed, unlike Sheriff's deputies, to prosecute their own cases. When people are cited for speeding, or other traffic infractions -- but not misdemeanors or felonies -- the deputy or officer who issued the ticket acts as prosecutor.

But when State Police issue a ticket and then don't show up in town court, because they are prohibited from acting as prosecutor, cases are often dismissed, costing the towns revenue, according to Bethany officials I spoke with last week.  Bethany is looking at hiring a part-time prosecutor, which many towns along the Thruway did some time ago, because of the revenue potentially lost when traffic tickets are not enforced.

Friedman said the practice of the assistant D.A.s to handle these infractions is raising no time or conflict-of-interest issues for his office.

In other Public Safety Committee News:

  • Deputy Chief Jerome Brewster said the Sheriff's Office requested a $50,000 grant for video equipment to record interviews the criminal suspects, but received only $15,000.  The department is reviewing its options now.
  • The Sheriff's office will use $2,000 in available grant money to purchase equipment to assist in domestic violence investigations. The equipment: Compact Digital Video cameras. (These little suckers are great I-witness journalism tools -- I wonder if the Sheriff will let me train his deputies to be I-witness journalists -- when they're not investigating actual cases, of course).
  • Genesee Justice will be able to lease electronic monitoring devices for five months to test whether the equipment can help adequately with home confinement cases. Cost: $5,800.
  • Approved extension of a contract American Rock Salt for purchase of sodium chloride. Highways Director Tim Hens said many local agencies have been signing new contracts recently at $50 and $60 per ton. ARS has agreed to much more modest price increase, from $38.98 per ton to $39.76.
June 15, 2009 - 8:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in taxes, New York State Senate, gensee county.

While it's pleasant to think that a broken state Senate means no state-damaging legislation can get passed, some of the bills pending while the Senate argues over leadership roles are important to the operation of local governments.

One of those bills, if not passed, could cost Genesee County as well of all the local towns, villages and the City of Batavia up to $8 million in annual revenue. The funds are used by the county to fund capital projects as well as pay down debt; for the city, towns and villages, the tax is part of operational revenue.

"That's going to cause a significant amount as havoc as we're trying to finish out our fiscal year," said County Manager Jay Gsell.

Every two years, the legislature must reauthorize authority for an a local-option additional 1 percent sales tax in Genesee County, as well as 36 other counties. The 1 percent is added to the permanent three percent levied by the county, plus the state's four percent makes for the 8 percent paid by county residents on local purchases.

It's only that 1 percent that must be reauthorized every two years.  And so has been the case since 1996.

To make up that revenue, Gsell said, the county would need to raise property taxes by $1.80 per assessed $1,000 value of a property.

If the bill isn't signed into law by September, the tax revenue could be lost and it could impact regional revenue for this year and the 2010-2011 budget.

"There is nobody even now who will even say we have a quote unquote quorum and we're going to official going to conduct business," Gsell noted. "My sense is there is so much back and forth and posturing going on that these, what should really be just ministerial functions, are not going to occur."

Audio: Jay Gsell talks about sales tax.

June 12, 2009 - 5:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, gensee county.

Genesee County may be losing out on the big Yahoo! data center deal, but that doesn't mean the county isn't out of the hunt for high tech jobs, according to GCEDC spokesman Chad Zambito.

Zambito told WBTA today (audio) that there are two big projects, with one being a strong possibility, that could get started in the western part of the county.

"Hydropower has been very important for us,'  Zambito said. "We've got two sites here in Genesee County that fall into the hydropower zone. It's about three-and-a-half cents a killowatt an hour. It's been a big difference right now. It's the only thing we're seeing moving is high tech looking at hydropower."

Also today, I e-mailed Zambito and asked him for his thoughts on why Yahoo! apparently picked Lockport over Genesee County.  Here's his response:

Our understanding is that an official announcement has not been made. That being said, we would certainly be happy to have them in the region but would obviously be disappointed to see Genesee County passed by. In comparison, the possible site in Niagara County may benefit from more industrial development as compared to our Green Field sites here in Genesee County.

June 10, 2009 - 9:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in budget, GCC, schools, gensee county.

The $3.26 million Genesee Community College budget received unanimous County Legislature support tonight.

The spending plan includes a commitment from the county for an additional $50,000 in spending in 2010, even though the county has not yet begun work on the 2010 budget.

"Higher education, with the way the economy is, is very important to people who need help in getting a job or keeping a job," said Ed DeJaneiro.

Both County Manager Jay Gsell and Legislator Charles Zambito noted that the county's contribution to GCC is among the lowest of any county in the state to a community college, as a percentage of the college budget.  Gsell also said after the meeting that GCC's students get one of the more affordable college educations in the state because GCC's coverage area is bigger than just one county.

The county's contribution to the spending plan will be $1,936,374.

Zambito spoke highly of GCC's efforts.

"Enrollment is the highest it's ever been and it's expected to be higher next year," Zambito said. "At a time when every other college is raising tuition, GCC is making a concerted effort not to increase tuition."

Students will pay $1,700 per semester in the coming academic year, or $140 per credit hour for part-time students.

April 1, 2009 - 10:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, gensee county.

Private ambulance companies can begin bidding on a contract to provide Genesee County with ambulance services. The private service will replace the service terminated by a vote of the Batavia City Council and scheduled to end Sept. 1.

Lawn signs protesting the council vote continue to dot the Batavia landscape.

A Request for Proposal (RFP) can be found on the County's Web site. The RFP was developed by the Genesee County Ambulance Task Force.

WBTA interviewed Tim Yaeger is the county’s emergency management coordinator, and head of the task force. Yaeger said the task force will review the proposals and submit recommendations and feedback to the participating government agencies.

Deadline for submissions is April 29.

The RFP is a very thorough document (PDF). It specifies the scope of service, company qualifications, insurance requirements, equipment needs, response times and communication guidelines.

The winning bid will be granted a three-year contract beginning Sept. 1, 2009 and ending Aug. 31, 2012. The contract may be terminated by either party on 120-days written notice.

The selected vendor must submit a surety bond or irrevocable letter of credit in the amount of $500,000 to guarantee performance of work.

The task force also reserves the right to reject all proposals.

Interested companies can ask questions and get more information on April 15, 10 a.m., at the Fire Training Center.

While service must start by Sept. 1, no date has been set for announcement of the awarded contract.

Most of the information contained in proposals received by the task force will be public information, discloseable under the Freedom of Information Law, except information specifically deemed as proprietary, in writing, by the submitting company.

Opponents of the city's decision to terminate its ambulance service set up a Web site to rally community support for its position. At one time, the site contained a (certainly non-scientific) poll to gauge community support for its position. Before the poll was taken down, only about 35 percent of the poll respondents favored the pro-city-ambulance position. The site also contains an online petition, but as of this moment -- several weeks after it was launched -- only 131 people have signed it.

December 29, 2008 - 8:08am
posted by Philip Anselmo in weather, strom, gensee county.

Tonawanda Creek crested Sunday morning, spilling its banks onto local roads, some of which are still closed off today, according to WBTA's Dan Fischer. Route 77 between Route 33 in Corfu and Route 20 in Darien is still closed due to a flooded viaduct under the railroad tracks there. Walnut Street in Batavia is also reported closed. Nevertheless, Fischer reports, people are still driving through the nearly two feet of water and around the barricades that were themselves taken down by the flood waters. Peaviner and Cookson roads are also closed.

Flooding was only one of the weather extremes causing for tough travel and some serious property damage across the county and elsewhere in Western New York yesterday. High winds, whipping up over 70 mph, felled trees and snapped poles toppling power lines. Winds in Batavia reached a peak of 62 mph, as was recorded at the School of the Blind.

Paul Mrozek wrote an article about the flooding and winds for the Daily News.

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