Town Board Addresses Ordinances, Police Association

By Jann Wiswall

The Ellicottville Town Board meeting Wednesday, June 25, opened with a public hearing on an amendment to Local Law #3, Section VII, of the year 2012 entitled “Town of Ellicottville Rules and Regulations Governing Water Service.” Section VII deals with the proper placement of pressure-reducing valves and water meters. The language of the amendment clarifies those requirements, said Town Engineer Mark Alianello, who recommended the changes. No members of the public were in attendance to address the issue and the board approved the amendment.

Supervisor John Burrell said in his “good news” report that he and other supporters of the extension of the 71-mile Southtowns Scenic Byway into Cattaraugus County, including representatives of the Village of Ellicottville and Ashford, were pleased that the County Legislature voted overwhelmingly to support the project. The project had been stalled in the County Finance Committee until last week when Burrell and others presented their rationale for supporting the byway.

The proposal, which would extend the byway about 25 miles from Springville along Route 219 through Concord, Ashford, Ellicottville and back, now needs approval from the state legislature and the governor. A designated scenic byway is intended to “promote economic development and community pride through the thoughtful stewardship of the natural, scenic, cultural, historic and recreational resources of the byway region.”

Other good news included the state’s approval of the town’s request for “No Standing” signs along Route 219 in front of Tim Hortons restaurant, approval of a request to reduce the speed limit on Horn Hill Road from 55 mph to 45 mph, and the completion of the patio at the Town Center building, which is receiving great reviews.

In other news, Burrell learned from Verizon that all town employees, including board members, could be eligible to enter into a group contract for their cell phone usage at Verizon’s government rates. Participants would have to switch to Verizon phones and their monthly payments would be deducted from their paychecks. More details are to be announced, but the board felt this would be a nice employee benefit and approved a resolution to proceed with the plan.

Burrell also reported that the producers of “Night Lights” were very pleased with its shows at Nannen Arboretum in May and June and would like to return next year, probably in late August and early September. The arboretum earned more than $1,000 from the event.

Board members Rick Jackson and Steve Crowley described a months-long project they worked on with members of the Ellicottville Police Department to form an Ellicottville Police Officers Association (EPOA) and develop a formal agreement that includes existing elements of Ellicottville’s employee handbook as well as specific policies, processes and wage rates for full-time, non-management police officers for the next two years.

Crowley explained that, after doing some research, he and Jackson (a retired Florida police officer) discovered that Ellicottville’s officers’ earnings were in the bottom 10 percent of New York police. The board and police department agreed that providing an association with professional processes and fair compensation would help attract, retain and develop a strong police force that knows the community.

After final review, the board approved the agreement, which was signed by Burrell, Police Officer in Charge Don Auge (who, as management, is not a member of the association) and Officer Amber Justice, the EPOA’s representative.

The board also took up the issue of revising the town’s alarm system local law, which was written in the late 1980s. Ellicottville Fire Department Chief Kevin Morton said one of the biggest problems the department deals with is false residential alarms due to malfunctioning systems. The department must, and does, respond to these alarms, which often occur at unoccupied vacation homes several times in the same day.

The board agrees that the issue is a problem, but so is finding a practical and enforceable way to address it. Town Attorney Kathleen Moriarty suggested the board review the county’s law on the issue. The board agreed and will reconsider the issue at its next meeting.

The board also is considering revising the town’s noise ordinance. Burrell said the Ellicottville Village Board plans to aggressively enforce its law, and Burrell felt that the town’s law should align with the village’s law. Board member Ken Hinman commented that there are differences between the town and village in this regard and that some of the village’s regulations are not practical in the town. The board agreed to take up this subject next month.

Alianello briefed the board on the status of the East Tank project. The construction was awarded to low-bidder J.D. Northrup after a special meeting held on June 17. Alianello is scheduling a pre-construction meeting within the week. However, he said that several easement agreements still need to be finalized before construction actually begins. The board approved Alianello’s suggestion that Burrell be authorized to sign off on all easement agreements over the next several weeks. If needed, Burrell will call a special meeting of the board to provide input.

Alianello also reported that the Ellicottville-Great Valley Recreational Trail Committee has submitted its grant proposal to the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), a state DOT funding authority.

Finally, Burrell asked Moriarty about the board’s request at last month’s meeting to look into how the town can change the Town Highway Superintendent position from an elected position to an appointed one. Moriarty explained that this can be done, citing Franklinville as an example. She said the board would have to adopt a local law abolishing the elected position and hold a referendum to authorize creation of a new position. Voters would have the final say.

The current superintendent is up for reelection in 2015. If the board decides to move ahead with the process, Moriarty said a referendum should be placed on the ballot in November 2014.

Burrell reiterated that the board has no authority over the superintendent, who manages more than a third of the town’s budget. But the board gets residents’ complaints and can’t do anything about them. An appointed highway department head would report to the supervisor and board, giving them the opportunity to develop the job description, assign duties and solve problems.

The next meeting of the Town of Ellicottville Board will be held on Wednesday, July 16 at 6 p.m. in the Village/Town Hall.