Board Reviews Insurance Coverage

By Jann Wiswall

Town Supervisor John Burrell prepared a “State of the Town” report, which he read in full during the Town Board’s meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 21, and its message was that the “state of the town is good.”

The report noted that, “Financially, we are in very good shape. Our total fund balance at the end of our last fiscal year was $1,902,921.” Seven years before, the fund balance stood at $763,829.

“During the same seven year period,” it continued, “our long term indebtedness has gone down from $510,065 to $143,271” after the town paid off the “bonds on the fire station this summer, a year early, saving taxpayer dollars.”

During the 2016 budget process, which has begun, Burrell’s report said the town expects to “hold our very low tax rate while continuing to provide the same or better services.”

The report credited some money saving efforts for some of the town’s financial success. “We have joined the National Joint Powers Alliance allowing us to make purchases through existing national low bids. We have cut staff in the Town Hall. Today, the Supervisor, Supervisor’s Clerk and Town Clerk are doing what was being done by four people. We have complied with State requirements that will allow taxpayers to be eligible for New York State’s Tax Freeze Credit. In addition, because of a good employee safety record, we will see an approximate 10 percent reduction in our Worker’s Compensation premium.”

The report goes on to compliment the work of the entire town staff and others who work on its behalf, including court staff, the town assessor, maintenance staff, the police department, the planning and zoning boards, the assessment review board, the building inspector, the town engineer the town engineer, the highway department staff and others.

It also pointed to some specific project successes, including the completion of the East Tank project, which came in under budget and was awarded a state grant to offset its costs, and the completion of the Holiday Valley Road project, “which was completely paid for by Holiday Valley Resort.” After construction, the new road was dedicated to the town, which will maintain it.

The report stated that “the five members of the Town Board continue to work well together. We are all committed to do what is best for our citizens and taxpayers.”

The full text of the report will be published in the Oct. 30 edition of the Ellicottville Times.

During the meeting, the board also heard a presentation from its insurance agent, Randy Glenn from the Evans Agency. Glenn explained that he had worked with department heads to itemize all town property, vehicles and equipment and recommended a level of coverage similar to what the town has carried in the past. Due to the acquisition of newer highway department vehicles, installation of the east water tank and other additions to town property, the proposed 2016 policy will cost about $1,780 more than last year.

Glenn recommended that the board consider adding data breach coverage at a cost of $333 per year. He also said that the value of a few items, including the new booster pump stations at the water treatment plant, still needs to be provided, which could change the policy cost.

The board felt that adding the data breach coverage is advisable and will review the full policy and provide feedback.

Supervisor’s Report

Burrell said that he has received numerous complaints about a strobe light that was installed, without permission, on a cell phone tower near Jackman Hill Road. The light can be seen from a great distance both on the ground and in the air and is considered a safety hazard for pilots and an annoyance for residents and drivers. The tower’s owners will be instructed to remove the light immediately.

Letters to residents about the new local alarm law and the requirement to register automatic home alarms were sent to all residents through their water bills. Town Clerk Robyn George reported that people are already sending in their registrations, which are due by February. One person called George to ask if the law requires homeowners to install alarms. It does not. Alarms are optional.

Burrell distributed an early draft copy of the 2016 budget which so far includes a summary of anticipated expenses, including department heads’ wish lists. There are still quite a few holes that need to be filled and revenues have not yet been calculated. Burrell suggested that the board gather for weekly budget meetings to hammer out the details. The first meeting will be held Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 4 p.m.

Police Department Report

Police Officer-in-Charge Don Auge reported that Fall Festival was one of the busiest he remembers. The department had a total of 64 calls for service and eight calls for assistance from the Sheriff’s Department or from EMS. He noted that policing at Holiday Valley during the weekend was simplified significantly over past years thanks to Holiday Valley Road’s new route.

Auge said he has several ideas to improve coverage and enforcement next year, including establishing command centers, posting signs regarding the open container law at various entry points to the Village and keeping officers around the perimeter of the Village. These and other ideas have been shared with the Village’s Special Events Committee.

Highway Department Report

Highway Superintendent Loyd Hovey and Burrell saw a demonstration of a Tennant floor sweeper at the highway barn and were impressed with its effectiveness and dust control. Hovey will include the $7,000-$8,000 machine cost in his department’s 2016 budget request. The board also discussed construction strategy for a budgeted fuel storage roof at the highway barn.

Following an executive session, the board returned to the public meeting to approve a new three-year contract with the Teamsters, which represents the non-management highway department staff.

The next meeting of the town board will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 6 p.m. in the town/village hall. All are welcome.