Highway Barn to be Named for Dave Golley 

By Jann Wiswall

Following a public hearing that generated no comments, the Town of Ellicottville’s board passed Local Law No. 2 of 2015 during its meeting on Wednesday, June 17 that permits the “town to provide cash payment in lieu of certain health insurance benefits” to town employees.

The law will allow eligible town employees to opt out of the town’s health insurance coverage if they provide proof of coverage on another policy (e.g. a spouse’s policy). In lieu of the town’s health coverage, they may choose a $4,500 buyout to be paid in equal, taxable payments each pay period.

Town Supervisor John Burrell started the regular meeting with the good news that the town’s premium for Worker’s Compensation insurance has gone down by 13% for 2015-16, saving the town some $8,200 next year, and that the town had received a dividend check for almost $9,700 for fiscal year 2013-14. The town also was in receipt of an insurance settlement check of more than $63,000 for damage to pumping station #2.

Burrell asked the board and media for their support in quashing a rumor that the town supervisor will appoint the next highway superintendent. In fact, it is the responsibility of the full town board to interview and appoint a qualified individual to the job.

Town residents passed a law in November making the highway superintendent position an appointed one, rather than an elected position, effective January 1, 2016.

Burrell also reported that: current Town Highway Superintendent Loyd Hovey met with Andy Toth, the town’s accountant, and others to be trained on budget processes and procedures; the Gazebo has been painted and freshly landscaped; and he and Hovey had met with representatives of the Teamsters (discussion about that meeting and the status of negotiations was held during executive session).

Toth and Ron Green from the town’s audit firm were on hand at the meeting to brief the board on the town’s financial status, which is “in quite good health,” Toth said.

Green shared a draft of the audit and pointed out to the board that the town is getting a “qualified opinion,” which is not ideal, but is not a reason for concern. The qualified opinion is because the town has managed to save more money than the state generally likes to see. When municipalities have savings it might suggest that taxes are being collected in advance, Green explained.

“The state would rather you borrow instead of save,” he said.

Burrell explained that the town’s savings are due to increases in sales tax revenues, not tax increases. And with the state’s tax freezes, he argued, “we need to have money in the bank to make repairs and improvements in the future.”

Green made a point to thank deputy town clerk Tracy Stokes and town clerk Robyn George for their help during the audit. “They were instrumental in getting the report done,” he said. Burrell added that it’s obvious that they are doing a great job with the books.

The board will review the draft audit and act on it at its July meeting.

Under new business, the board approved Burrell’s proposal to name the town’s highway building on Bryant Hill Rd. after former Highway Superintendent Dave Golley, who passed away in December 2014.

The board also approved a Rotary Club of Ellicottville request to replace the existing lighting in the large event space in the Town Center with dimmable lights. The board approved the request.

And, the board authorized advertisement for a public hearing on a proposed Alarm System Local Law at the July 15 meeting. The draft of the local law is available for review at the town clerk’s office.

Department Reports

Police: Police Officer in Charge Don Auge reported that none of the town’s police officers had been wanted to test out the department’s body camera until a policy is in place regarding its use. A draft of that policy had been reviewed by the board, however, and was adopted with some minor edits.

Auge also said that most officers have been trained on the proper administration of Narcan®, a medication used to counter the effects of opioid (e.g. heroin) overdose.  Those who have been trained are now equipped with their own kits.

Board member and volunteer fire fighter Rick Jackson noted that all ambulances and most fire department vehicles are now equipped with the kits, as well.

Highway: Hovey was authorized by the board to accept the low bid for sand and gravel; he also was authorized to contract with a low bidder to lease a large excavator needed for Sommerville Valley Road repairs.

Hovey said his staff has been busy keeping up with recent weather-related drainage issues, as well as mowing, digging ditches, road repair and other work.

Engineering: Town Engineer Mark Alianello also reported weather-related issues that have slowed completion of roadwork associated with the East Tank project and challenged workers on the Holiday Valley road realignment and related projects there.

The next meeting of the town board will be held on Wednesday, July 15 in the town/village hall.