towngazebocolorBy Jann Wiswall

Town of Ellicottville Supervisor John Burrell always starts board meetings with a bit of good news. At this month’s meeting, held Feb. 19, Burrell announced that fourth quarter 2013 sales tax revenues totaled $356,000, which is $356,000 more than anticipated for the year. The town had already received its entire estimated revenue at the end of the third quarter. That money will go into the town’s surplus fund.

Burrell also reported that major progress has been made on renovations of the new Town Center building. Rehabilitation of both the men’s and women’s restrooms is nearly complete and the new flooring in the auditorium is scheduled to be installed soon in preparation for a Rotary Club of Ellicottville event on March 7.

In addition, Burrell hired a contractor to take a good look at the building’s heating system, which, while old, is in reasonably good condition. The system was cleaned, repaired and inspected, and the contractor will provide the town with maintenance recommendations for the future and estimates of what to expect cost-wise.

Police Report

Town Police Officer in Charge Don Auge was absent, so Burrell briefed the board on recent police activities. He said that, since the village is now being patrolled by town police, the number of tickets and citations issued by the town have increased correspondingly. Parking continues to be an issue and village merchants have been informed that the village’s two-hour parking restrictions are being enforced.

He also said that Auge updated the department’s Standard Operating Procedures and that the board has provided comments. The board moved to accept the revised document.

Burrell and Auge recently attended a village special events committee meeting. A new event is being planned for the summer — a bicycle weekend — that will require additional police coverage. The town agreed to provide that coverage.

Engineering Report

Town Engineer Mark Alianello briefed the board on a number of ongoing projects. He recently met with National Grid to review the town’s street lighting and look for ways to reduce costs. Although current fixtures are as energy efficient as possible, there were some irregularities in recent bills that were cleared up during the review.

The NYS DOT’s sidewalk project has gone to bid, Alianello reported. The project includes construction of a sidewalk from HoliMont into the village along Route 242, improvement of the Elizabeth/Fillmore/Route 219 intersection, and rebuilding the handicap ramps and curbs at five intersections in the village along Washington Street. Construction is scheduled to begin this spring.

The East Tank Project continues to progress as Alianello prepares final construction drawings for submission to the health department next week for approval. One difficulty has come to light, however. The bond counsel hired by the town to structure billing processes has not completed his work and has not returned calls or emails in many months. Without this structure, the bond resolution cannot be approved, and without the resolution, bids cannot go out.

Town Attorney Kathleen Moriarty advised the board that it can terminate its relationship with the bond counsel and then a new counsel can be retained. The board approved a motion to do so.

The floodplain project that was initiated by the town, village and two area developers that proves that existing floodplain maps for the area are obsolete has been stalled since FEMA said it is unable to complete a Physical Map Revision (PMR) due to funding constraints. Efforts are underway to enlist the help of Representative Tom Reed and both New York senators. Reed has sent a letter to FEMA asking the agency to fund the project and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office has been in touch with Burrell.

Assessor’s Report

Town Assessor Harry Weissman reported that he and a consultant are collecting data using building permits, plans and photographs of actual properties to document home improvements that have not been reflected in property assessments. Weissman expects this effort will make all assessments more accurate.

He also said he has spoken with Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director Corey Wiktor about coordinating with each other to ensure that some of the IDA’s projects get on the books after their tax-exemption terms have ended. Weissman also wants to work with the IDA early on to ensure that assessed values are accurate to begin with.

Recreational Trail

Finally, Burrell and board member Ken Hinman updated the board on next steps related to the proposed Ellicottville/Great Valley Recreational Trail. After learning last month that the trail committee did not receive a state Transportation Enhancement Program grant, the committee regrouped and is now working on completing an application for another grant.

The next meeting of the Town of Ellicottville’s board will be held on Wednesday, March 19 at 6 p.m. in the Village/Town Hall.