By Jann Wiswall

Town of Ellicottville Supervisor John Burrell informed the board at its Tuesday, Nov. 18 meeting that Town Highway Superintendent Dave Golley had been admitted to the hospital that morning. Burrell, who, with the board, wished Golley a speedy recovery, had invited Deputy Superintendent Loyd Hovey to attend the meeting to brief the board on his plans to manage the department during Golley’s absence.

As Burrell pointed out, Golley is a working member of the six-member department team – meaning he handles a sixth of the workload. With another employee on vacation, Hovey and the board discussed at length how the department can stay staffed up for as much as two shifts per day depending on the weather.

The board suggested that Hovey contact the employee who is on vacation and ask him to come back early. Another employee who had planned a vacation will be asked to delay those plans. Hovey noted that employees lose their vacation time at the end of the year if they don’t take it. The board moved to waive that rule for these emergency circumstances and will allow employees this year to either roll over their vacation time into 2015 or opt to be paid for unused time at the end of 2014.

The board also authorized Hovey to hire part-time help to cover Golley’s work until he is able to return.

Hovey said that, with these actions, and the department’s dedication, “we’ll get it done.” He said that the entire team is committed to its work and “knows what it’s going to take. If it takes longer, so be it,” he said.

All members of the board assured Hovey that they would do anything needed to help the department get through this difficult period.

2015 Town Budget

In other business, Burrell reported that, at a special meeting on Nov. 5, the board held a public hearing on the 2015 town budget. There were no comments from the public and the budget was adopted by the board.

For 2015, the property tax rate will remain unchanged at $1.21/$1,000 of assessed value and the town will stay under the state’s 2 percent tax cap.

That good news, combined with the fact that projected sales tax revenues will be up by 4+ percent, puts the town on solid financial footing next year.

Department Reports

Police Officer in Charge Don Auge informed the board that his department, along with other regional police departments, was in the midst of blocking all traffic, except local traffic, from traveling along Route 219 north due to the monster lake effect snow storm occurring in the Buffalo southtowns and vicinity. All tractor trailers were being asked to wait out the storm in the parking area of the former Signore plant on Jefferson Street. Another road block was located at the intersection of Routes 219 and 242, where northbound through-traffic was being held in the Tim Horton’s restaurant parking area.

Traffic would be held in those locations until Route 219 can be reopened north of Springville.

Two of the town’s regular officers were unable to get to Ellicottville due to the storm. The rest of the town’s officers were working double shifts and overtime in order to manage the situation; county and other area police departments were assisting.

Town Engineer Mark Alianello reported that the town’s new water tank was being disinfected and would be ready to go online soon. A good portion of the waterline construction has been completed, though there is still work to be done. Overall, the project is going well and is on budget, he said.

Alianello also briefed the board on its duties associated with taking over management of the water system at WestMont Ridge – the new development at HoliMont that is in the town of Mansfield. Mansfield, which does not have a public water or sewer system, has an agreement with the town to provide service to the community (see Mansfield story, cover). Legal paperwork related to that agreement – and a similar agreement with the Village of Ellicottville to provide sewer services – is being finalized.

Town Clerk Robyn George asked the board for permission to add delinquent water bills to homeowners’ 2015 tax bills. The board made and approved a motion to allow her to do so.

In addition, George reported that she has found a vendor that can provide a system for the town to accept credit cards from individuals purchasing licenses (e.g. marriage, dog, hunting, fishing) and certificates (e.g. birth, death, marriage) and other documents from the clerk’s office. A user fee would be deducted from the cardholder’s account. Town Attorney Kathleen Moriarty said she will review the contract and user fee regulations.

George also reported that she and Village Clerk Mary Klahn are working on making online payment of water and sewer bills available to customers. They hope to have a system in place by April.

The next meeting of the Town of Ellicottville board will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. in the town/village hall.