Agenda

Council Chambers

Tonawanda, New York

March 4, 2008

 

A Regular Meeting of the Common Council

 

Present:  Council President Zeisz

Present Councilmembers:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Davis

Excused:  Kossow

 

Pledge of Allegiance led by Council President Zeisz

 

Prayer led by Council President Zeisz

 

COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE MAYOR

 

A letter from the NYSDEC, dated February 25, 2008, announcing that the DEC will be holding an informational public meeting about the Tonawanda Community Air Quality Study on Saturday, March 1, from 9:30 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. at the Sheridan Parkside Community Center.

 

A memo from the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, dated February 15, 2008, regarding the final 2008 Annual Action Plan.

 

A letter to NYS DHCR, dated February 26, 2008, regarding legislative member item contract #20060559, site studies and surveys for proposed Veteran’s Park housing.

 

A letter from the NYSDOT, dated February 25, 2008, making the City aware of some ongoing and up coming state highway and bridge projects in Erie County.

 

Bi-Monthly reports from the Department Heads regarding various issues in their departments.

 

A letter to Edward Gebera, 157 Brookside Terrace West, dated February 26, 2008, reappointing him to the City of Tonawanda Housing Authority Board, term to expire, February 11, 2013.

 

A letter from Senator Antoine M. Thompson, dated February 25, 2008, regarding the City’s 185th birthday.

 

A letter to Senator Mary Lou Rath and Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, regarding a member line item for $8,500 that was awarded to the City for a generator for the Fire Department.

 

A letter from the NYS Office of Real Property Services, dated February 14, 2008, regarding an update for the 2008 roll.

 

A letter to the Home Leasing, LLC, dated February 20, 2008, regarding the Kibler Senior

Apartments.

 

A letter from the NYSDEC regarding a Public Hearing for DAM Safety Regulations.

 

A fact sheet from the NYSDEC, dated March 2008, regarding the cleanup actions proposed for Tonawanda coke site (operable units 1 and 2).

 

A memo from the Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church, dated February 25, 2008, regarding installation of signage.

 

A letter from Empire State Development, dated February 19, 2008, regarding Tonawanda – Restore NY II Project:  Spaulding Fibre (W093). 

            Ordered filed

 

COMMUNICATION FROM CITY OFFICIALS AND CORRESPONDENCE

 

The following monthly reports were received by the City Clerk:

            February minutes of the Traffic & Safety Board

            February minutes of the Waterfront Revitalization Board

            January Activity Report of the Fire Department

            January Executive Minutes of the City Clerk

            February Executive Minutes of the City Clerk

            February monthly report of the Building Inspector

                        Referred to the Committee of the Whole

                            Ordered filed

 

A letter from the City of Tonawanda School District, dated February 26, 2008, regarding a funding opportunity to upgrade area sidewalks.

 

A letter from City Assessor Patricia Bacon regarding the assessment disclosure notices.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

                        Ordered filed

 

COMMENTS BY THE PUBLIC ON RESOLUTIONS

 

Council President Zeisz – For anyone who has gotten their mail today.  You know that the Assessment Disclosure Notices have been mailed to all property owners within the City.   Pat Bacon, our City Assessor wants to remind everyone that the independent appraisal firm of J.D. Brearley Consultants has spent the past year collecting, verifying and analyzing data for the new assessments.  She is urging all property owners to carefully review their data and assessment.  Should they have concerns please follow the instructions on the disclosure notice.  Call the phone number on the notice and schedule an appointment with the contractor and his staff.  She thanks everyone for their consideration.  And, just for point of information, the Council is not going to be taking any comments or questions on the assessment per se.  That has to be handled through the Assessor’s Office.  It is not handled by Council members.  This is a process that is being dealt with solely through the Assessor’s Office.  There will come a point in time when the Council will have to deal with the corresponding tax rate and things of that nature but as far as the process, the process has to play itself out through the Assessor’s Office.  That doesn’t mean we won’t take comments we are just not going to respond on the process itself.  That is to be done through the Assessor’s Office.

 

Richard Slicz, 260 Niagara Shore Drive – On the assessments.  It was ordered received and filed.   It is not a resolution.  It is a communication.  You stated earlier that it took one year to get to this point.  In that one year we have had probably two, maybe three hearings.  Don’t you think it would be proper at this time to have hearings on this issue.  Secondly, you seem to be rushing.  Notices come out and on the 14th you have to have a letter in saying that you want to object to or challenge your assessment.  I think that is rushing the issue a little bit.  I think we should be getting more time.  People will be away for Easter and you are telling us by the 14th of March we have to have our notice in that we intend to challenge.  There will be challenges.  There will be a lot of challenges.  Because I think whoever did this was probably smoking something. 

 

Council President Zeisz – It is a process that was put together…

 

Richard Slicz – My question is that they send you a notice and then they give you ten days to make up your mind if you intend to challenge.  What’s the rush?  You took a year.  You can give them thirty days notice.  You can give them forty-five days notice.

 

Council President Zeisz – That is a question I will be more than glad to ask the Assessor.  It is a process that was laid out with the State when we started.

 

Richard Slicz – The State does not control what we do here.   They are not going to tell us what process we should use.  It is up to this Council, if they want to delay the process so people have enough time to study the issue and then decide if they want to challenge.  I just think you are rushing the whole thing.   This Council should make up its mind.  The Assessor is not the Council.  She is only the appointed Assessor.  She cannot set the schedules of the Council.

 

Edward Gebera, 157 Brookside Terrace W. – On the third resolution.  How did you come up with the pay raises like that?  One year, two years, three years or what?

 

Council President Zeisz – 2007 would be 2 ½% more than the prior year and 2008 would be 2 ½% more.

 

Edward Gerbera – In other words he got a 5% raise at least.  Actually a little bit more.

 

Council President Zeisz – Over a two year period, yes. 

 

Councilmember Perkins – Mr. Gerbera, just so you know.  This was done simple interest so they did not get the value of compounded interest so we saved you some money there.  Also, that position is not filled. 

 

MOTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS

 

52.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Whereas, the City of Tonawanda Fire Department has replaced its fourteen year old Avon, 13-foot, inflatable boat and motor used for waterway emergencies with a new similar watercraft; and

            Whereas, it has been determined that the old boat has now been declared surplus equipment and no longer needed by the fire department, and

            Whereas, the City of North Tonawanda Fire Department has expressed interest in obtaining this boat for their use in responding to waterway emergencies; and

            Whereas, this boat is still deemed to be seaworthy and usable for water rescue response; and

            Whereas, the acquisition of this boat originally was made possible through a Grant from the Community Development Agency and therefore cannot be sold or auctioned off for the benefit of the City of Tonawanda; and

            Whereas, the North Tonawanda Fire Department has pledged their assistance to the City of Tonawanda with regard to waterway emergencies which, will benefit the City of Tonawanda Fire Department, now, therefore be it

Resolved, that Mayor Ronald J. Pilozzi is hereby authorized and directed to grant ownership of one (1) Avon, 13-foot inflatable boat and motor, designated as surplus fire department equipment, to the City of North Tonawanda Fire Department.

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

53.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

Whereas, the Common Council adopted Resolution No. 170 on August 14, 2007, regarding a Tree Inventory Grant through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), and

Whereas, NYSDEC has requested that the City’s resolution be amended to conform with the format required by NYSDEC, now, therefore be it

Resolved, that Resolution No. 170 passed by the City of Tonawanda Common Council on August 14, 2007 be amended to read as follows:  That, Ronald J. Pilozzi, as Mayor of the City of Tonawanda, or such person’s successor in office, is hereby authorized and directed to enter and execute a project agreement with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for such financial assistance to the City of Tonawanda for a Western New York Municipal Urban Forest Restoration Assistance Grant in an amount not to exceed $4,200.00

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

54.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that Resolution No. 47 passed by the City of Tonawanda Common Council on February 19, 2008, be amended to read as follows: 

Whereas, on December 18, 2007 the Council adopted a salary and compensation schedule for City of Tonawanda non-union department heads, other management employees, full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal positions as well as board and commission members for the years 2007 and 2008, and

Whereas, the adopted resolution contained errors pertaining to the positions of Civil Service Commission Chairman and Assistant Public Works Superintendent, and

Whereas, these errors were addressed through adoption of a council resolution on February 19, 2008, and

Whereas, the Council wishes to further modify the wages for Assistant Public Works superintendent for 2008, now therefore be it

Resolved, that the Common Council approves the following modification to the salary schedule for the position of Assistant Public Works Superintendent for the year 2008, and be it further

Resolved, that said wages become retroactive to January 1, 2008 and that said list of positions and their corresponding wages shall be incorporated into the Personnel Benefits and Policy Manual in Section 2 – Compensation, 2.01 – Salary Administration, Appendix D.

                                                                                    2007                2008

Classification                Job Title                              Wages              Wages

 

Group 2            Assistant Public Works Sup’t.            $58,383            $61,302

           

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

55.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

                Resolved, that the certificate of insurance and bond for MCD Plumbing, Inc. (Michael C. Diebold) be filed and a license be issued for him to do business in the City of Tonawanda.

               

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

56.       By Council President Zeisz                                     seconded by Councilmember Perkins

                Resolved, that the reading of the following resolution be waived.

               

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

57.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Whereas, the City of Tonawanda and the Tonawanda School District wish to apply for grant funding to replace sidewalks adjacent to our schools and along student walking paths en route to and from schools; and

Whereas, the City of Tonawanda acts as lead sponsor for the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Safe Routes to School grant application; and

Whereas, the City of Tonawanda represents just under 16,000 residents in just under 4 square miles and is situated on the shores of the Niagara River, located in the County of Erie in the State of New York; and

Whereas, The agents representing the City of Tonawanda are duly authorized to hire and enter into legal agreements with professional firms and contractors; and

Whereas, the agents representing the City of Tonawanda are duly able to certify right-of-way ownership and otherwise to advance the project in compliance with federal and state law; and

Whereas, funding for federal aid projects has previously been secured for the benefit of the City of Tonawanda, and

Whereas, the agents representing the City of Tonawanda agree to enter into a formal agreement with NYSDOT if a Safe Routes to School Grant is awarded to the City; and

Whereas, the agents representing the City of Tonawanda pay project costs first, then request reimbursement of eligible costs from NYSDOT; and

Whereas, the agents representing the City of Tonawanda accept responsibility for the project development in accordance with federal requirements, and

Whereas, the agents representing the City of Tonawanda agree to enter into any necessary agreement on behalf of the project applicant; and

Whereas, the authorizing signatory is the Mayor of the City of Tonawanda, duly elected by the citizens of the City of Tonawanda to enter into all agreements, including but not limited to, those listed above on behalf of the citizens of the City of Tonawanda; and now, therefore be it

Resolved, that the Common Council of the City of Tonawanda hereby endorses the submission of the City of Tonawanda’s Safe Routes to School grant application to the New York State Department of Transportation, and be it further

Resolved, that Mayor Ronald J. Pilozzi is hereby authorized to file as lead sponsor with the Tonawanda School District an application to the New York State Department of Transportation, Safe Routes to School Grant Program for funding.

               

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

58.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that the Common Council authorize and direct Mayor Ronald J. Pilozzi to submit a grant application and enter into an agreement with the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation for 2008, through the Clean Vessel Assistance Operation and Maintenance Grant Program for the City’s Pump Out Facility in Gateway Harbor in an amount not to exceed $2,000.00.

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

59.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

                        Whereas, a $25.00 Special Events application fee and application were received by the City Clerk for Ride for Roswell and

            Whereas, the application was reviewed and commented on by all appropriate department heads to insure the safety and well being of our residents, now, therefore be it

            Resolved, that permission be granted to Roswell Park Cancer Institute to hold their annual Ride for Roswell through various streets of the City on Saturday, June 28, 2008 from 8:15 A.M. until Noon.

 

Special Events fee being charged:  $125.00 ($25.00 SEF, $100.00 Police Services)

 

Ayes:    Perkins, Waterhouse, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

60.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

                Whereas, a $25.00 Special Events application fee and application were received by the City Clerk for “Walk for Life”, and

                Whereas, the application was reviewed and commented on by all appropriate department heads to insure the safety and well being of our residents, now, therefore be it

                Resolved, that permission be granted to Son Rays Ministries to hold their annual “Walk for Life” on  Saturday,  June 14, 2008, from 7:30 A.M. until Noon.

 

Special Events fee being charged:  approx. $85.00 ($25.00 SEF, approx. $60.00 Bandshell)

               

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:   None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

 

 

 

61.       By Council President Zeisz                         seconded by Councilmember Davis

            Resolved, that in recognition and compliance with the “New York State Open Meetings Law”, this Common Council will meet in Executive Session in the Common Council Chambers for the purpose of pending exempt City business, and further be it

            Resolved, that upon conclusion of the above stated business matters, the meeting shall again be open to the general public.  The reason for the Executive Session is to discuss personnel of a particular person.

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Council President Zeisz – Before I take comments I do want to clarify one piece of information.  I don’t want anyone here who received notices on their assessment to think that the Council relinquished any control to the Assessor’s Office.  That is not the case.  The Council approved a timetable going back over a year ago on how this process would work.  Basically the ten-day window is just a matter of putting out the fact that you want to have an informal hearing to discuss your assessment.  It is not the end all be all.  There is a two-step process. You can either go through the informal session and then there is also the regular grievance day that will take place at the end of May. 

 

Nancy Paschen, 5 Main Street – You said that all of this material from the Council meetings and stuff like that is on the web site and you can find out how things go along at the Council meetings.  It is for the general public.  If you have it here you can get it, right?

 

Council President Zeisz – You can get the minutes of the formal meetings, not on our Work Sessions in the back room.  Just on the formal meetings out on this floor.

 

Nancy Paschen – How about if you want a list of the employees and stuff like that?  If you want to know the contract and stuff like that.  Do you have to pay for that.  Is that correct?

 

Council President Zeisz – You have to file a Freedom of Information with the City Clerk to get that. 

 

David McCormick, 613 Niagara Street – Who did the assessing on our homes.  Did you have an outside firm?

 

Council President Zeisz – It was done by J.D. Brearley.

 

David McCormick – So our City had nothing to do with it, it was all outside.

 

Council President Zeisz – He worked with our City Assessor on the process.

 

David McCormick – Is it common practice to double someone’s assessed value of their home?

 

Council President Zeisz – I cannot speak to your particular assessment, or anyone elses.  The Council was not a part of that process to get to this point.

 

Rosemary Brady, 298 Willowbend Road – This is in regard to the tree trimming that was done by National Grid this past month.  I looked at what they were doing and all of the trees on one side of the street were trimmed.  I waited.  Nothing was done on my side of the street.  I called National Grid.  They told me a forester would contact me in regards to this.  I told them I understood there was a problem on our side because a lot of them have fences and that makes access a little more difficult.  I may not live to see when the forester will call because I never got called and this was over three weeks ago.  In the mean time I have also noticed a lot of the light standards are leaning precariously and this point in time and I don’t see anything being done about them.  Two years ago on Ms. Perkin’s street kids were out playing about noon and one of the light standards fell right over in the middle of the street.    Now nothing was made of it I don’t think but I think it would be very nice if these people were enforcing some of the so called projects that they do and they are asking for comment and they’ve got one now and this is the only place I know of that could address it properly so that everyone gets a fair shot at getting these improvements done.

 

Council President Zeisz – So you never did get an answer.

 

Rosemary Brady – Not one blessed word.

 

Mayor Pilozzi -  Mrs. Brady, just out of curiosity, the tree trimming you were referring to was that tree trimming in the back of the yard where the right-of-way is because I know in the Millstream section of the City there are a lot of lines that run behind houses.

 

Rosemary Brady – That’s correct.

 

Mayor Pilozzi – Are you talking about the ones in the back?

 

Rosemary Brady – Yes, the ones in the backyard, w all the water is.

 

COMMENTS FROM THE COUNCILMEMBERS AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Councilmember Davis – I would just like to remind people of the weather this evening, it might get a little dicey.   It wouldn’t be a bad idea with what we are expecting for residents to keep flashlights and candles at hand because if we get what we are suppose to get there will be scattered power outages throughout the area.  For the people that are here, I am just giving you a “heads up”.    The girls bowling team placed third recently at the state championships and I would just like to take my hat off to their coach Jerry Frizzell and the girls bowling team for the great job that they did.  The landfill, DEC is going to start testing select residents, sump pumps within the next few weeks to get some readings to see if any of either the radioactive waste or anything else has migrated to the ground water off-site.  Those results should be available some time in May.  Also, for those residents that signed petitions like myself, Council President Zeisz and Legislator Michele Iannello sent around.  Senator Schumer sent a reply to that and I am not going to read the reply but the one piece of information I found that was uplifting was that he asked the Army Corp for an estimate of how much it was going to cost to clean up the fusrap area.  Which I believe is the first step in trying to get that contaminated waste out of there.  We can’t get the waste out of there unless we have a cost associated with that.  My hat is off to Senator Schumer for actually replying to everyone that signed the petition.  And lastly I would like to wish our esteemed Council President Carl Zeisz a happy belated 50th birthday.

 

Colleen Perkins – I knew you got a car for your birthday.

 

Council President Zeisz – I think she felt like I needed something because I was feeling a little sad.

 

Colleen Perkins – They call that a mid-life crisis Council President Zeisz.  I would like to thank Councilmember Davis for the weather update, if it is true.  We have had two false alarms in the weather department this year.  Everyone take caution getting home tonight and even walking in the parking lot.  It looks like it is already slick out there.

 

Mayor Pilozzi – Thank you Council President Zeisz.  I share your comments on the assessments.  But, I do want to add one thing.  If you do so desire there are some informational packets on the table outside of the Clerk’s Office.  You might want to educate yourself on the process and some of the questions that are commonly asked and then if you still have concerns and questions feel free to call the number that has been given to you.  It is always good to read that kind of stuff first just to give yourself some insight as to what the process is all about.  Today between 8:30 AM and 11:30 AM I had the opportunity to be at the University of Buffalo at a conference hosted by County Executive Collins.  All forty-four municipal leaders were invited and out of that forty-four thirty-six were there including Mayor Brown from Buffalo.  It was a very enlightening meeting.  He plans to do that four times a year, every quarter.  One thing that kind of disturbed me, it was in the Buffalo paper recently.  That is that Governor Spitzer and maybe the legislature too, I’m not sure, is trying to buy into a program that is going to push some of the State costs down to the local level.  Basically the County and you know what happens when the County gets squeezed, we get squeezed.  So if you have any inclinations to write letters, that is a good one to write letters on.  I think we all have to worry about our own house and at the State level obviously we don’t have the inputs on a day-to-day basis.  When I go to Tops, when I go to Church, when I go downtown, and I am sure that the same thing holds true for everyone sitting up here, we have face-to-face contact with them.  People sometime at the State and Federal level don’t have that.  They have an insulation so to speak, a built in insulation.  So, if they don’t hear from you they are going to think everything is A-OK.  That was one of many issues that were brought up.  At any rate, thank you Mr. President and Happy Birthday, I wish I were 50 again.

 

Councilmember Davis – I just have one more thing.  This Saturday the DEC held an informational workshop on the air quality monitoring devises that they set up throughout the area and one of the compelling things about it is the increase in benzene that has been in our air here in the City of Tonawanda and the Town of Tonawanda and Grand Island, more specifically from the Tonawanda Coke facility and from the NOCO facility on River Road.  Residents that have been living up in that area for thirty or forty years have always complained of a certain stench, nauseating odor, that was there during the late fall, winter and early spring and I think these tests that the DEC are doing is just reinforcing that there is a problem with the air here in the area and I am hoping that within the next six months when they take more extensive readings and come out with their one year report that it will shed some more light and take some action against these factories that are spilling this stuff into the atmosphere.

 

Council President Zeisz – I just wanted to make one more comment on the reval that is taking place right now.  I think that Mayor Pilozzi brought up a good point about availing yourself to any information that we do have available to residents so that you understand the process and understand too that the Council is not in a position to make decisions about how much someone’s house is worth so that is why we have expert people to do this for us and that is another reason why the process doesn’t involve the Council because we are not in a position to make those decisions.  Thank you all for coming and drive home safely.

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

62.       By Councilmember Davis                                        seconded by Councilmember Perkins

            Resolved, that this Common Council adjourn until March 18, 2008.  

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

 

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