Council Chambers

Tonawanda, New York

March 3, 2009

 

A Regular Meeting of the Common Council

 

Present:  Council President Zeisz

Present Councilmembers:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis

 

Pledge of Allegiance led by Council President Zeisz

 

Prayer led by Council President Zeisz

 

COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE MAYOR

 

A letter from Erie County Legislator Michele M. Iannello, dated February 4, 2009, regarding a very serious issue that is affecting the public health of her residents in the 10th Legislative District of Erie County and the surrounding areas.

 

A proclamation proclaiming March 12, 2009, “World Kidney Day” in New York State and the City of Tonawanda.

 

A letter from State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer, dated February 13, 2009, thanking the Mayor for writing him regarding some of the issues that are facing local governments across the state.

 

A letter from Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, dated February 19, 2009, thanking the Mayor for a letter he recently sent to him requesting his assistance in securing state legislative funding to assist the City of Tonawanda in undertaking several infrastructure projects and acquiring needed equipment. 

 

A letter from Time Warner Cable, dated February 20, 2009, informing the residents of the City that there will now be a new station, Channel 96,  for local news, weather, community events and sports.

 

A letter to Governor David Paterson dated February 23, 2009, supporting Legislator Iannello’s letter regarding a request for NYS to review and reduce the threshold of cancer causing pollutants.

 

A letter from the Erie County Director of Business Assistance dated February 24, 2009, regarding the Spaulding Fibre project.

 

A letter from Senator Antoine Thompson, to Governor Paterson, dated February 23, 2009, regarding pollution in the Tonawanda/Grand Island Bridge neighborhoods.

            Ordered filed

 

COMMUNICATION FROM CITY OFFICIALS AND CORRESPONDENCE

The following monthly reports were received by the City Clerk:

            January minutes of the Board of Appeals

January monthly report of the Building Inspector

            January Executive Minutes of the City Clerk

January minutes of the Plumbing Board

            February minutes of the Board of Appeals

            February monthly report of the Building Inspector

February monthly report of the City Clerk

February minutes of the Civil Service Commission

February minutes of the Plumbing Board

            February minutes of the Traffic and Safety Advisory Board

            City of Tonawanda General Fund Revenues, General Fund Expenditures

                        and Sewer Fund Expenditures through 2/28/09.

                Referred to the Committee of the Whole

                        Ordered filed

A letter from the Assistant Deputy Comptroller of Erie County to City Treasurer Joseph M. Hogenkamp, dated February 23, 2009, regarding Erie County Community College Chargeback Data.

 

A letter from Art Klein regarding the threat of nuclear waste to the drinking water of Tonawanda.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

                Ordered filed

           

COMMENTS BY THE PUBLIC ON RESOLUTIONS

 

Nancy Paschen, 5 Main Street – On resolution #4, about the City of Tonawanda School District having an organization, are they going to hire more people, more Police Officers to locate at that school or what.  I don’t understand it. 

 

Council President Zeisz – No. 

 

Nancy Paschen – Didn’t we used to have a Police Officer in the schools at one time, officers patrolling the halls? 

 

Council President Zeisz – Yes. 

 

Nancy Paschen – And what is this going to do?  I mean are you going to add another representative to walk around the halls?

 

Council President Zeisz – How about if I ask the Police Chief to come up to the mic so I can get it on the record.   

 

Police Chief Young – The grant is actually being written by the school.  We’re kind of co-sponsoring it, but the actuality of this grant taking place is probably 3% but if the school doesn’t receive something like this and they look for a grant in the future, they can be frowned upon that they didn’t apply for this grant.  So the actuality right now is just using a lot of trees up. 

 

Nancy Paschen – Well, you have Juvenile Detectives, don’t you?

 

Police Chief Young - We do. We had to eliminate the School Resource Officer because that grant dried up.  In place of what we’re doing is the Juvenile Detective is actually working out of the High School.  He has an office up in the high school and anytime that we can spare him from the station, we place him up in the High School and he actually has a computer that’s attached to our Police Department.  He doesn’t work up there so his presence is not always there.  The only problem that we want to make sure that the school is aware of is in the event of an emergency or if we have something going on that we need to pull him out of the school, we can’t guarantee that he’s always going to be up there.  So we’re working right now with the school, and the school recognizes the value of having him there. We’re working with the school that they might pay towards having an officer up there, and again, we’re trying to do all we can.

 

MOTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS

 

34.       By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

                        Resolved, that at the recommendation of the City Engineer, Jason J. LaMonaco, P.E., that award of Environmental Engineering services to assist with the post closure monitoring and reporting of the Wales Avenue Landfill for 2009 be made to Stearns & Wheler, LLC, at a cost not to exceed $18,500.00.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

 

 

35.       By Council President Zeisz                                                 seconded by Councilmember Perkins

            Resolved, that the reading of resolutions #2, #3, #4 and #8 be waived.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

36.       By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

                        WHEREAS, the New York State Department of Transportation proposes the construction, reconstruction, or improvement of NY Route 265 in the City of Tonawanda located in Erie County, PIN 5019.23, and

WHEREAS, the State will include as part of the construction, reconstruction, or improvement of the above mentioned project the adjustment to manhole covers, pursuant to Section 10, Subdivision 24, of the State Highway Law, as shown on the contract plans relating to the project and meeting the requirements of the owner, and

WHEREAS, the service life of the relocated and or replaced utilities has not been extended, and

WHEREAS, the State will provide for the reconstruction of the above mentioned work, as shown on the contract plans relating to the above mentioned project.

Now therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the City of Tonawanda approves of the adjustment to their manhole covers and the above mentioned work performed on the project and shown on the contract plans relating to the project and that the City of Tonawanda will maintain or cause to be maintained the adjusted facilities performed as above stated and as shown on the contract plans and be it further

RESOLVED, that Mayor Pilozzi has the authority to sign, with the concurrence of the Common Council, any and all documentation that may become necessary as a result of this project as it relates to the City of Tonawanda, and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Clerk of the City of Tonawanda is hereby directed to transmit five (5) certified copies of the foregoing resolution to the New York State Department of Transportation.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

37.       By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Whereas:  Tobacco products are addictive and contribute to the premature illnesses and deaths of our citizens; and

            Whereas:  The Surgeon General has concluded that tobacco product marketing encourages people to use tobacco, especially youth; and

            Whereas:  In 2005, tobacco companies spent $13 billion to market cigarettes in the United States, most of which was spent at point of sale; and

            Whereas:  The economic impact of tobacco use is a drain on our community keeping taxes high and making employers spend more money on health insurance which reduces jobs in our region; and

            Whereas:  The vast majority of tobacco users regret their decision to start smoking and find their ability to quit using tobacco constrained because of nicotine addiction; and

            Whereas:  We have a responsibility to protect the public’s health, especially those who are young and most vulnerable.

            Whereas:  An estimated 1/3 of adolescent experimentation with smoking can be directly attributed to tobacco advertising and promotional activities, now, therefore be it

            Resolved:  That the City of Tonawanda hereby supports the efforts of Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition and to protect the children of Erie and Niagara Counties and the City of Tonawanda by asking local retailers to reduce tobacco advertising by doing the following:

 

 

 

 

 

  • No price promotions or discounts.

  • Removing all tobacco brand advertising inside and outside of their store.

  • Keeping tobacco displays out of view of customers.

  • Agreeing to place material in their store advising smoking customers where they can get assistance to stop using tobacco products.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

38.       By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Whereas, the City of Tonawanda, the Tonawanda School District and local community-based organizations wish to apply for grant funding to reduce the threat of gang violence within City boundaries; and

            Whereas, the Tonawanda City School District acts as lead sponsor for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Gang Prevention Coordination Assistance Program grant application; and

            Whereas, the City of Tonawanda represents just under 15,000 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 Tonawanda City School District are duly authorized to hire and enter into legal agreement with professional firms and contractors; and

            Whereas, the agents representing the City of Tonawanda agree to enter into a formal agreement with OJJDP as a key participant if a Gang Prevention Coordination Assistance Program grant is awarded to the City; and

            Whereas, the agents representing the Tonawanda City School District accept responsibility for the program 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 for the City 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 Tonawanda City School District’s Gang Prevention Coordination Assistance Program grant application to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and be it further

            Resolved, that Mayor Ronald J. Pilozzi is hereby authorized to file as the City representative with the Tonawanda School District an application to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Gang Prevention Coordination Assistance Grant Program for funding.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

39.       By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that Robert J. Blazina, 9 Fremont Street, be appointed Commissioner of Deeds in the City of Tonawanda, term to expire December 31, 2010.

           

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

40.       By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that a certificate of insurance and bond be filed and a license be issued to Michael R. Duerr of Neighborhood Plumbing NY, Inc., to do plumbing in the City of Tonawanda.

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

41.       By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that permission be granted to the residents of Enterprise Avenue to hold a Block Party on Saturday, August 15, 2009, from Noon until Midnight and be it further

            Resolved, that ingress and egress be provided for local traffic and emergency vehicles.

           

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

42.       By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Whereas, City fiscal year 2009 appropriations for employee and retirees obligated medical insurance benefits total $3,150,480 or 17.24% of all City 2009 operating expenditures; $3,086,480 for insurance premiums and $64,000 for union administered plans; and

            Whereas, pursuant to the 2007-2011 collective bargaining agreement between the City of Tonawanda and the Police Bene4volent Association (PBA), both parties were working on offering a High Deductible Health Care Plan along with a Health Savings Account (HAS), but postponed implementation of this initiative due to problems implementing these plans; and

            Whereas, to assist the City in addressing and attempting to resolve HAS implementation difficulties, the City invited three medical insurance administrators to submit proposals that would provide medical insurance management support service to the City; and

            Whereas, based on interviews with the three respondents, the City asked Premier Consulting Associates, LLC, to assist the City as its broker of record, to immediately address the HAS issue and to provide various administrative services as scope of services; and

            Whereas, Premier Consulting assisted the City in its contractual obligations to change medical insurance carrier coverage for PBS Members from Independent Health to Blue Cross/Blue Shield coverage with Premier administering all enrollment activities; and

            Whereas, after extensively analyzing the City’s medical insurance policies and discussing medical insurance issues with the Mayor and the City Treasurer, Premier made a number of recommendations designed to reduce City medical insurance costs, including potential savings by offering comparable medical insurance coverage for out-of-area retirees; and

            Whereas, the City and Premier have identified additional opportunities to reduce City medical insurance costs, including changing City coverage from community rated experience rated coverage; and enrolling eligible individuals under Medicare and managed plans; and

            Whereas, the City would benefit from support service to proactively manage City medical expenses and Premier is highly qualified to do so, now therefore be it

            Resolved, that Ronald J. Pilozzi, Mayor of the City of Tonawanda, be authorized to sign the proposed agreement which incorporates the scope of services and fee structure with Premier Consulting, LLC, retroactive to October 1, 2008.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

43.       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 contract negotiations. 

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Nancy Paschen – I have a suggestion.  It’s probably been brought up before.  I feel that all the Department Heads should be here because like tonight, Police Chief Young was able to answer my question.  There’s been a gentleman up here a few times that either Pat Bacon isn’t here or anything and I think they should be here.  I really do because they get paid enough money and if they can’t afford an hour to sit here, they can sit all day long doing nothing hardly, why can’t they sit here?  This gentleman back here, he’s asked a couple questions and there’s no Department Head here.  “Well, we have to find out, we’ll check on it” the poor guy, I feel sorry for him. 

 

Council President Zeisz – Ms. Paschen, I’ll let the Mayor address that question or comment because the Department Heads work for the Mayor. 

 

Nancy Paschen – Wasn’t that an order, in the old charter, didn’t they come every month. 

 

Council President Zeisz - That was 12 years ago and in the old charter the Council ran the City.  The Mayor is in charge of the day-to-day operations.  The Council is legislative. 

 

Mayor Pilozzi - I believe what she’s talking about was we were going to have one Department Head at every meeting, I think.  Is that what you’re referring to?

 

Nancy Paschen – Yeah, we should have a Department Head here, yes. 

 

Mayor Pilozzi – We have one Department Head here this meeting, last meeting we had Jason, and we have been doing that. 

 

Council President Zeisz – But are you saying every Department Head?

 

Nancy Paschen – Well, I mean, supposing I had a question about this or that at the Senior Center?  Whose gonna answer that? 

 

Council President Zeisz – Well that’s why….

 

Mayor Pilozzi - …if you have a specific question that needs an answer, for instance Mr. Derner came in and asked a couple questions recently, I’ll get the answer.  It might not be something you like, but the answer will come.

 

Nancy Paschen – In other words, if I want to know tonight if we’re going to have a thing at the Senior Center, you’re gonna get the answer for me, you don’t know, huh? Is that how it’s gonna work?

 

Robert Derner, 286 Niagara Shore Drive – Two weeks ago, at the last Council meeting, I asked about the debris that was piled up at Niagara Shore Drive from the sewage treatment plant there and you said the Mayor would look into it and as of tonight, when I walked over there, it’s still there.  It’s been there for months and this lady’s suggesting that Department Heads should be here would be a good thing because maybe if the Public Works Department Head was here, he could answer that.  The thing is, that is still there, there is broken barricade signs behind the Police garage that are just laying there with debris and from time to time, there is more debris there.  It doesn’t reflect good for the City for one thing, the other thing is, it’s right across the street from six of the most expensive or the highest taxed houses in the City and nobody should have to put up with that.  I would think pride in the City would make sure that employees would get rid of that stuff instead of having it right out in front where everybody could look at it for months at a time.  It’s not acceptable.  The other thing I want to ask is, in the Mayor’s address on the State of the City, he mentioned that contract negotiations were settled with the three City unions.  Is there any reason why those union contracts can’t be put up on the City website so all the people in the City could examine what we’re paying for. 

 

Mayor Pilozzi – I personally don’t have a problem with that.  I don’t know if our legal counsel would say it’s a good thing to do. 

 

Robert Derner - Well it isn’t a question of whether it’s a good thing to do if people are paying for it. 

 

Mayor Pilozzi – We’re also paying for a City Attorney.  I’m saying if he has no problem with that, I’d be more than glad to let it happen. 

 

Robert Derner - Wouldn’t that be public record anyway?   

 

Council President Zeisz - Yes, it’s public record. 

 

Mayor Pilozzi - You want a copy, I’d be glad to give you a copy of it. 

 

Robert Derner - Most of the time when you have to go and ask for something from the City, you have to ask for a Freedom of Information Act.  It means you can’t get it right away.  You gotta wait five days before you receive it.  If it was on the website, people could read it at their leisure.  You should be able to.  What about the debris? 

 

Mayor Pilozzi – The debris will be picked up by our DPW as soon as the rest of the work is done and I think it’s going to happen within the next week to ten days. 

 

Robert Derner - Why does it have to be piled up in front anyway when you’re working.  You got plenty of space behind those buildings there, it doesn’t have to be right out on the front lawn.  That’s what I’m saying.

 

Mayor Pilozzi - Probably because we don’t want to have to move it twice but I’ll look into it, but that’s the answer.  We thought, to be quite honest with you and right up front and honest with you and very frank with you, we thought that the contractor that was doing the work at the main pumping station, that was his responsibility.  We found out later on it wasn’t. It’s our responsibility.  So, our DPW department is going to have to move that. 

 

COMMENTS FROM THE COUNCILMEMBERS AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Councilmember Davis – I’d just like to thank all the volunteers and students that participated in last week’s Youth Days.  I heard it was a huge success.  We had multiple teams for multiple sports that participated and I’m sure there’s somebody sitting out in the audience that participated in that.  Again, I’d like to thank all the volunteers. The Police Department had a representative up there, so did the Fire Department to make sure that there was an EMS and some type of structure and order up there.  I’d also like to thank the businesses that provided the food up there for the students and volunteers and also our Youth Board.  And lastly, last meeting I thanked Jason LaMonaco for his work on trying to get something taken care of for me on the corner of Wadsworth and Taylor.  I’d also like to thank Neal Myers and our Police Department because they also called in the trouble ticket to National Fuel and got them out there so thank you.

 

Councilmember Kossow – We lost a gentleman this past week, he gave the majority of his life to the Tonawanda School District.  Mr. Perry recently passed away and if everyone could just keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.

 

Councilmember Perkins – I have nothing this evening, thank you. 

 

Councilmember Waterhouse – Nothing at this time, thank you.

 

Mayor Pilozzi – I’d like to also echo the comments of Mr. Davis.  The Youth Days came off, I think maybe some of the young folks here participated, I don’t know, but I was at the High School on one of the nights to see what was going on and it looked like everybody was having a good time. The pizza was good and many thanks go out to the various pizza places. I think there were probably taverns and places that sell pizza that donated that to the kids and that’s a great thing.  It gets, not only the kids involved, but it gets the community involved as a whole, so that’s always a good thing.  It really looked like they were having a good time.  One of the other things that I think is kind of important is, this time of year when we’re looking forward to Spring, there’s a situation that a lot of our senior citizens face and that’s being able to pay for heating and it’s not necessarily just the senior citizens, there’s some household thresholds for income that if they are met, you can get some help with paying your gas bill.  To her credit, Legislator Iannello is sponsoring another session here in Tonawanda. You don’t have to go anywhere outside of Tonawanda.  You can come right to 34 Main Street at the United Way of the Tonawandas and I believe if you look out in our corridor there are some posters that tell you what the thresholds of family income are and that sort of thing, so take a look at.  If you fall within those thresholds, it will also tell you what you need to bring to certify yourself as a recipient of HEAP.  And I’d also like to extend my condolences to the family of Mr. Perry.  He was a guy that spent one heck of a lot time in this community, never left it, I think he was 91 or 92 when he passed away, an educator, a guy that was really big on Tonawanda and we’re all going to miss him.  Sorry for the earlier disruption, but I’m supposed to become a grandfather soon.  

 

Council President Zeisz – We will be adjourning tonight in memory of Dick Perry who was the Superintendent of the Tonawanda School System.  He actually retired from that position about 30 years ago.

   

ADJOURNMENT

 

44.       By Councilmember                                                            seconded by Councilmember

            Resolved, that this Common Council adjourn in memory of Richard Perry, until March 17, 2009.  

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

 

 

 

 

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