Local Matters

Community Sponsors


May 19, 2008 - 2:26pm
posted by Patrick D. Burk in technology, taxes, Board of Education.

Another quick reminder.....School Budget Votes and School Board Members Voting is tomorrow in the City of Batavia.   Board Seats held by Wayne Guenther and Steve Hyde are up for Re-Election, there is no challengers.  Steve and Wayne have both done the office of Board of Education Member proud.  I hope the community comes out to support them. 

We also have the budget, which cuts the current tax rate by 2% or more and allows for the expansion of curriculum and the continuance of our award winning technology programs.  Batavia City School District is getting top grades for being one of the BEST SCHOOL DISTRICTS in Western New York.  All of our buildings (BHS, BMS & 3 Elementaries) recieved passing grades of distinction from New York State.  In short we are doing a fine job with the education process while realigning and reducing the tax burden on local residents and businesses. 

Also on the ballot is the approval of the 5+ Million Technology Budget that will add to the Security of all buildings as well as update current technology to include wireless and other outlets.  This will allow more students on computers at the same time and result in a better adaption of technology in the classroom.  Now here is the glitch....this has to pass by New York State Law by 60%.  I  have no clue why Small City School Building Projects need the 60% threshold while others only need 1 vote more in favor...but the fact is, we do.

With all that being said....please come out and support the Batavia City School's Budget, its Board of Education Members and the Technology Project.  It is the least we can do for our kids.  We appreciate your support.


May 15, 2008 - 7:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, veterans, taxes, county legislature.

As a Cold War veteran myself, the County's Legislature's proposal to cut property taxes by 10 percent for those who served in the military from 1945 to 1991 is applause worthy.

If approved, the tax break would be effective March 1, 2009, for county tax bills. The property must be a private residence of the veteran or the unmarried spouse of a deceased veteran.

Those who served in the three wars during that period — Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm — are currently eligible for property tax exemptions.

Applications are processed by the county’s Veteran Service Office.

For the Cold War veterans the percentage would apply to residential property values up to $60,000. Those with homes assessed at more would get the same exemption but only to a cap level of $60,000.

I served in the USAF from 1980 to 1994, and I always felt like I did my part to protect the country from the Red Menace, so it's nice to see the Cold War veterans of Genesee get some recognition.

May 14, 2008 - 7:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee Community College, taxes, students.

As astonishingly high as taxes are in New York, you would think attending a community college would be free -- as it was in California for many decades, until Prop. 13 (a cap on property taxes passed in 1978) eroded state revenue.


In fact, Genesee students will get to pay another $50 per-semester, making total semester costs $1,700.


The increase, part of a $30.8 million GCC budget for 2008-09, was adopted during the monthly meeting of the board of trustees Monday.

The budget proposes a $50,000 increase in support from Genesee County, sponsor of the college. Last year, the college was granted a $100,000 increase from county funds, raising taxpayers’ support to $1.8 million, about 6 percent of the total college budget. Officials have maintained that the county’s share is the second lowest among county-sponsored two-year colleges in the state.

The increase must yet be approved by the County Legislature.  The rubber stamps are probably already inked.

May 13, 2008 - 1:00pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in city council, consolidation, government, Sam Barone, taxes.

City Councilman Sam Barone came by Main Street Coffee this morning for a chat. He was one minute early. Punctual. I like that. Over a couple mugs of black coffee, while white collars settled into their cubicle chairs and farmers into their plow seats, Sam and I talked about city life in a small town, what gets a man to run for office and what it's like to watch your kids leave home for greener pastures.

Sam grew up in Batavia, not far from Austin Park, he tells me. He taught science for a living out in Byron and Bergen, until he retired. But that doesn't mean he's any less interested in the science of life — animate or otherwise. He'll always have a soft spot for Batavia's parks, even if they paved over the wading pool to put in a spray park. He knows the trees of those parks intimately, some of them more than a century old, he says. Worth preserving. Worth appreciating.

Sam took a seat on the City Council only about five months ago. Why did he do it? Why would anyone do it? "Basically," he says, "the taxes."

"Last year, they proposed a large increase in taxes. So I started attending meetings to get information on how the city operates and realized we had some very serious deficits."

Still, Sam wanted to hang in the back seat. So when the Democrats asked him to run on their ticket back in July, Sam said: No. Of course, we know he gave in and got elected. He and his fellow Council members battled their way through the budget — laborious, he says — and reduced the tax increase to 8 percent, compared with the 23 percent hike from the year before, says Barone.

That laborious struggle to balance the budget may soon seem like a cakewalk as the city gets ready to roll up its sleeves and take a long hard look at the question that nobody seems to want to mention out loud: consolidation.

Albany recently approved a $93,000 grant for the town and city of Batavia to look at consolidating services and "potentially merging the two municipalities into a single entity," according to the Albany Project.

Sam admits that he's a bit wary of consolidation talk himself. He doesn't want the city to lose its cultural character by merging with the town. But at the same time, he doesn't see any reason the county can't help pay for ambulance service or the town can't share its snowplows with the city.

"Some areas should be consolidated," he says. "Some shouldn't. I want Batavia to have an identity."

He finds that identity in the city's parks, its green open spaces, its ball field and its homes. We talked at length about Batavia's homes — the facades along Main Street were the first thing I fell in love with when I took a virgin drive through Batavia earlier this year.

Sam spoke of the Brisbane Mansion, once a home, then turned City Hall, that now houses the police station. He told of the Briggs home down Walnut Street. I drove down that way to find it, but there were so many fetching abodes that I couldn't say for sure which one would take the prize. I snapped a photo of this yellow one that seemed a dollhouse erected for normal size people.

There was a very nice old home right at the bend where South Main turns into Walnut that also had plenty of fancy dressings and age spots to recommend itself as another contender for most interesting old big house in that ward of the city.

Heritage homes and ancient trees aside, the first thing on Sam's mind was bringing more jobs into Batavia, likely the first thing on most folks' mind these days around here. Sam has three boys. All three left their Batavia home for somewhere they could get a job. His eldest may not have gone far — to Rochester to work for a communications manufacturer — but the other two couldn't have gone farther, without leaving the country.

One boy took off for Portland, Oregon. Sam calls him "the free spirit" — he left to play music out on the west coast. The other left for Florida after he lost his machine supply job up here. Both are doing well for themselves, but they're doing it far from home.

"Part of it is the taxes," says Sam. "Part of it is the type of work you're looking for. People are finding the work elsewhere."

That might just be the biggest challenge for a City Councilman in these parts: get the work to come thiswhere. Best of luck with that, Sam.

Subscribe to




Copyright © 2008-2020 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service

blue button