Mortgage Tax Revenues Higher than Budgeted

By Jann Wiswall

Town of Ellicottville Supervisor John Burrell led off the Dec. 17 board meeting with the good news that mortgage tax revenues were $14,000-plus higher than the board budgeted for 2014, and, the total is more than was forecasted for 2015.  Fiscally speaking, this means the town is, potentially, starting 2015 ahead of the game.

During the relatively brief meeting, the board got an update on the police department from Police Officer in Charge Don Auge. Board Member Rick Jackson asked Auge if he has looked into body cameras for officers. Auge said he knows of some area departments that have looked into or purchased the devices, but there are no standard policies for their use.

“Everyone is looking for guidance about when and how they should be used,” he said, noting that there are legal issues as well as budget considerations. Auge said he would continue to research the subject.

The board discussed with Auge the possibility of hiring another full-time officer with a goal of providing 24/7 coverage of the town and village. Currently, four full-time and two part-time officers provide coverage for all but a few hours each day. Those hours are covered by state police and the county sheriff’s office, but because those officers cover the entire county, they are not always available.

The board suggested that Auge prepare a budget projection for what it would take to provide round-the-clock coverage with an additional full-time officer and less part-time help.

Loyd Hovey, acting highway superintendent, said that the department is adjusting since the death of Superintendent Dave Golley on Dec. 2. At a special meeting on Dec. 3, the board approved a request to advertise for a full-time and a seasonal position to staff up the department. Burrell and Hovey will review applications in the next week or two.

At that December meeting, the board authorized the town to advertise for bids for a new front-end loader. Bids were reviewed at Wednesday’s meeting and awarded to the low bidder, George & Swede.

Over the past two weeks, the board and Town Attorney Kathleen Moriarty have been looking into what the town’s options are with regard to short-term replacement of the superintendent position. In the short-term, Burrell explained that the board must appoint someone to fill Golley’s elected seat until his term ends on Dec. 31, 2015.

Burrell asked Hovey, who had indicated to the board that he might want to retire in May, if he would be available and willing to stay on in the position through December. Hovey said he would be available.

Burrell also reported that the department’s union representative wants to meet with Burrell to discuss a new contract with highway employees. Burrell asked Hovey to talk with staff about their concerns before scheduling that meeting.

Over the next several months, a board committee headed by Ken Hinman and Greg Fitzpatrick will look at how to reorganize the department once the superintendent position becomes an appointed one, per a new law passed by voters in November.

Engineer’s Report

Town Engineer Mark Alianello reported that the East Tank project is “functionally complete,” and asked the board to approve several resolutions to finalize payments to contractors and to reserve funds to finish some work that had to be delayed until the weather breaks in the spring. Those resolutions were passed.

Alianello also asked the board to approve a resolution authorizing Burrell to sign contracts with firms providing telemetry equipment and installation.

Progress on finalizing paperwork between municipalities to provide water and sewer service at HoliMont’s WestMont Ridge development continues. Alianello said that most items on the punch list have been completed; funds to take care of some final tasks have been placed in escrow until the work can be done in the spring.

Alianello also sought the board’s opinion on an issue that came up at the Town Planning Board meeting on Dec. 16. New owners of the former Marble Works property on Route 219 N propose to renovate the building and open a fitness center and propose to hook into the town’s sewer system by installing a pumping station. The closest sewer main is 450 feet from the business (see story, cover).

During the planning board discussion, Alianello said the other option would be to extend the main closer to the new business, which could be an expensive proposition to the town, the developer, or both.

At the town board meeting, however, Alianello said that he believes the pumping station solution is reasonable and affordable for the developer. He also suggested that the town consider extending the main to the northern edge of the town’s sewer district along Route 219 in the future, if additional development along the route is likely. The board agreed to consider the project.

Finally, Alianello said he had been contacted by the HoliHuts homeowners association (HOA) about tying the community into the town’s water system at homeowners’ cost. The community has had persistent problems with the cluster wells that currently supply water. Alianello and Burrell will meet with the HOA at its next meeting in early January.

Ken Hinman, who serves as president of the Ellicottville/Great Valley Recreational Trail Committee, reported that local radio station 105.9 is producing public service announcements asking for support for the trail’s fundraising efforts. The station also is considering promoting and hosting a Mardi Gras-timed fundraiser.

The town board will hold its 2015 reorganizational meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. Its next regular board meeting will be held on Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the Village/Town Hall.