Council Chambers

Tonawanda, New York

March 18, 2008

 

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

 

BID OPENING:   Main Pump Station Upgrade – General

                              March 4, 2008

 

    Kohl Construction

    Two Road

    Alden, NY   14004                                                              Base Bid               $352,800

                                                                                                Alternate #1           138,200

                                                                                                Alternate #2             58,900

 

    J.W. Danforth Company

    300 Colvin Woods Parkway

    Tonawanda, NY   14150                                                     Base Bid               $447,000

                                                                                                Alternate #1           149,000

                                                                                                Alternate #2             39,000

 

BID OPENING:  Main Pump Station Upgrade – Electrical

                            March 4, 2008

 

    O’Connell Electric

    349B Ransom Road

    Lancaster, NY   14086                                                     Base Bid             $ 29,490   

                                                                                                Alternate #1               8,250

 

    Frey Electric

    100 Pearce Avenue

    Tonawanda, NY   14150                                                     Base Bid             $ 47,000

                                                                                                Alternate #1             15,000

 

    Weydman Electric

    747 Young Street                                                               Base Bid             $ 52,000

    Tonawanda, NY   14150                                                     Alternate #1             16,560

 

Referred to the Committee of the Whole

     Ordered filed

 

COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE MAYOR

 

A letter from Senator Antoine M. Thompson, dated March 10, 2008, regarding Women’s History Month.

 

A letter from the Tonawanda Football Clinic asking for help funding the 2008 season.

 

A letter from Senator Charles Schumer, dated February 28, 2008, explaining that they are accepting applications for funding under the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program.

 

An announcement from Senatory Antoine M. Thompson, dated March 10, 2008, announcing the 2nd annual St. Joseph’s Day Table.

 

A letter from Cheryl L. Benzin, dated March 10, 2008, expressing her profound appreciation for the City of Tonawanda Fire Department’s act of kindness.

 

A letter from the NYS Department of State,  dated March 10, 2008, regarding the Community Projects Appropriation Agreement for $30,000 for sidewalk replacement.

 

A letter from the NYS Department of State, dated March 10, 2008, regarding the Community Projects Appropriation Agreement for $17,500 for a Vets Park site study.

 

A letter from Erie County Legislator Lynn Marinelli, dated March 5, 2008, regarding a bipartisan news conference denouncing the burdensome and unfair cost shifts to counties that are part of the Governor’s proposed state budget.

 

A letter regarding the Canalway Trail Celebration National Trails Day on June 7, 2008.

 

A letter to the Athletic Director at Tonawanda High School, dated March 14, 2008, regarding the Girls Warrior Bowling Team.

           

A letter to Governor David Paterson, dated March 14, 2008, sending him best wishes and support in his upcoming endeavor.

 

A letter from Empire State Development, dated March 14, 2008, stating that the new Governor held a news conference stressing his commitment to reversing the trend of upstaters leaving New York to find work elsewhere.

                        Ordered filed

 

COMMUNICATION FROM CITY OFFICIALS AND CORRESPONDENCE

 

The following monthly reports were received by the City Clerk:

            February minutes of the Plumbing Board

            February monthly report of the City Clerk

            February minutes of the Civil Service Commission

            February minutes of the Board of Appeals

            General Fund Budget Control Report and Revenue Control Report

                        For the City as of March 16, 2008

            Sewer Fund Expenditures for the City as of March 16, 2008

                Referred to the Committee of the Whole

                        Ordered filed

 

A communication from the Civil Service Commission announcing a promotional examination for public works foreman to be held on May 10, 2008.

 

A communication from the Civil Service Commission announcing an open competitive examination for public works foreman to be held on May 10, 2008.

 

A notice of public hearing from the Board of Appeals regarding a variance request to be allowed to erect an addition to the rear of an existing garage at 92 Canton Street.

 

A letter from Brenda Boyle, Executive Director of the Tonawanda Youth Board, dated March 3, 2008, regarding state funding.

 

An announcement from the US Army Corps of Engineers, regarding an update on the Tonawanda sites, to be held at the Erie County Rath Building on Thursday, March 20, 2008.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

                Ordered filed

           

 

 

 

 

 

MOTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS

 

63.       By Councilmember Waterhouse                              seconded by Councilmember Perkins

            Resolved, that the bills be allowed as audited and the City Clerk be authorized to draw warrants on the Treasurer for the various amounts.

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

64.       By Council President Zeisz                         seconded by Councilmember Perkins

            Resolved, that the reading of the next five resolutions be waived.

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

65.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that the Mayor be authorized and directed to sign the following agreement:

THIS AGREEMENT, made the 1st day of April, 2008, by and between the CITY OF TONAWANDA, a municipal corporation, situate with the County of Erie and State of New York hereinafter called the "CITY" and the DELAWARE HOSE COMPANY #2, a volunteer fire company organized and existing within the City of Tonawanda, hereinafter called "COMPANY".

            WITNESSETH:

            WHEREAS, the said Company furnished fire protection to said City and maintains facilities and personnel to answer calls and fire alarms for the protection and preservation from fire of life and property.

            NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the covenants and agreements hereinafter set forth, the parties hereto agree as follows:

            1.  The Company agrees to maintain and furnish at all times, protection from fire of life and property in the City of Tonawanda and to maintain and furnish the services of the volunteer members of said companies in so protecting life and property.

            2.  The City agrees to make payments to said Company in the following manner:

            The sum of $4,750.00 payable on the first day of April, 2008.

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

66.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that the Mayor be authorized and directed to sign the following agreement:

THIS AGREEMENT, made the 1st day of April, 2008, by and between the CITY OF TONAWANDA, a municipal corporation, situate with the County of Erie and State of New York hereinafter called the "CITY" and the NATIONAL HOSE COMPANY #1, a volunteer fire company organized and existing within the City of Tonawanda, hereinafter called "COMPANY".

            WITNESSETH:

            WHEREAS, the said Company furnished fire protection to said City and maintains facilities and personnel to answer calls and fire alarms for the protection and preservation from fire of life and property.

            NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the covenants and agreements hereinafter set forth, the parties hereto agree as follows:

            1.The Company agrees to maintain and furnish at all times, protection from fire of life and property in the City of Tonawanda and to maintain and furnish the services of the volunteer members of said companies in so protecting life and property.

 

 

 

 

            2.  The City agrees to make payments to said Company in the following manner:

The sum of $4,750.00 payable on the first day of April, 2008.

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

67.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that the Mayor be authorized and directed to sign the following agreement:

THIS AGREEMENT, made the 1st day of April, 2008, by and between the CITY OF TONAWANDA, a municipal corporation, situate with the County of Erie and State of New York hereinafter called the "CITY" and the NIAGARA HOSE COMPANY #3, a volunteer fire company organized and existing within the City of Tonawanda, hereinafter called "COMPANY".

            WITNESSETH:

            WHEREAS, the said Company furnished fire protection to said City and maintains facilities and personnel to answer calls and fire alarms for the protection and preservation from fire of life and property.

            NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the covenants and agreements hereinafter set forth, the parties hereto agree as follows:

            1.  The Company agrees to maintain and furnish at all times, protection from fire of life and property in the City of Tonawanda and to maintain and furnish the services of the volunteer members of said companies in so protecting life and property.

            2.  The City agrees to make payments to said Company in the following manner:

            The sum of $4,750.00 payable on the first day of April, 2008.

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

68.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that the Mayor be authorized and directed to sign the following agreement:

THIS AGREEMENT, made the 1st day of April, 2008, by and between the CITY OF TONAWANDA, a municipal corporation, situate with the County of Erie and State of New York hereinafter called the "CITY" and the UNION HOOK & LADDER COMPANY #1, a volunteer fire company organized and existing within the City of Tonawanda, hereinafter called "COMPANY".

            WITNESSETH:

            WHEREAS, the said Company furnished fire protection to said City and maintains facilities and personnel to answer calls and fire alarms for the protection and preservation from fire of life and property.

            NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the covenants and agreements hereinafter set forth, the parties hereto agree as follows:

            1.  The Company agrees to maintain and furnish at all times, protection from fire of life and property in the City of Tonawanda and to maintain and furnish the services of the volunteer members of said companies in so protecting life and property.

            2.  The City agrees to make payments to said Company in the following manner:

            The sum of $4,750.00 payable on the first day of April, 2008.

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

69.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

A BOND RESOLUTION, DATED MARCH 18, 2008, OF THE CITY OF TONAWANDA, ERIE COUNTY, NEW YORK (THE “CITY”) AMENDING THE BOND RESOLUTION OF APRIL 17, 2007, AUTHORIZING SEWER SYSTEM IMPROVEMENTS INCLUDING THE REPLACEMENT OF EQUIPMENT, MACHINERY OR APPARATUS, IN A MAXIMUM AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED $750,000, AND AUTHORIZING THE ISSUANCE OF SERIAL BONDS IN AN AGGREGATE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT

NOT TO EXCEED $750,000 OF THE CITY OF TONAWANDA, PURSUANT TO THE LOCAL FINANCE LAW TO FINANCE SAID PURPOSE, SAID AMOUNT TO BE OFFSET BY ANY FEDERAL, STATE, COUNTY AND/OR LOCAL FUNDS RECEIVED, AND DELEGATING THE POWER TO ISSUE BOND ANTICIPATION NOTES IN ANTICIPATION OF THE SALE OF SUCH BONDS TO THE CITY TREASURER.

 

            WHEREAS, on April 17, 2007, the Common Council of the City of Tonawanda, Erie County, New York, adopted a bond resolution authorizing sewer system improvements, including but not limited to, the replacement of two pumps at the Main Street Station, as well as related equipment, machinery and apparatus and any preliminary costs and costs incidental thereto (the “Project”), in an amount not to exceed $375,000; and

 

            WHEREAS, the Common Council, has determined to amend the April 17, 2007, bond resolution to increase the maximum estimated cost from $375,000 to $750,000 because of an increase in the cost of materials, labor and equipment; and

 

WHEREAS, the Common Council desires to undertake the Project with the increased cost; and

 

Now therefore,

 

BE IT RESOLVED, by the Common Council (by the favorable vote of not less than two-thirds of all the members of the Council) as follows:

 

SECTION 1.  The specific purpose (hereinafter referred to as “Purpose”) to be financed pursuant to this resolution is the sewer system improvements, including but not limited to, the replacement of two pumps at the Main Pump Station, as well as related equipment, machinery and apparatus, including all preliminary costs and costs incidental thereto.  The maximum cost of said Purpose will not exceed $750,000, to be offset by any federal, state, county and/or local funds to be received.

 

SECTION 2.  The Common Council plans to finance the maximum estimated cost of said purpose by the issuance of serial bonds in an amount not to exceed $750,000 of said City, hereby authorized to be issued therefore pursuant to the Local Finance Law, said amount to be offset by any additional federal, state, county and/or local funds received.  The cost of such improvement is to be paid by the levy and collection of taxes on all real property in the City to pay the principal of said bonds and the interest thereon as the same shall become due and payable.

 

SECTION 3.  It is hereby determined that said purpose is an object or purpose described in subdivision 4 of paragraph (a) of Section 11.00 of the Local Finance Law, and that the period of probable usefulness of said purpose is 30 years.

 

SECTION 4.  Current funds are not required to be provided prior to the issuance of the bonds authorized by this resolution or any notes issued in anticipation of the sale of said bonds.

 

SECTION 5.  It is hereby determined the proposed maturity of the obligations authorized by this resolution will be in excess of five years.

 

SECTION 6.  The faith and credit of the City are hereby irrevocably pledged for the payment of the principal of and interest on such bonds as the same respectively become due and payable.  An annual appropriation shall be made in each year sufficient to pay the principal of and interest on such bonds becoming due and payable in such year.  There shall annually be levied on all the taxable real property of the City a tax sufficient to pay the principal of and interest on such bonds as the same become due and payable.

 

SECTION 7.  Subject to the provisions of this resolution and of the Local Finance Law, pursuant to the provisions of Section 30.00 relative to the authorization of the issuance of bond anticipation notes or the renewals of said notes and of Section 21.00, Section 50.00, Sections 56.00 to 60.00, Section 62.00 and Section 63.00 of the Local Finance Law, the powers and duties of the Common Council pertaining or incidental to the sale and issuance of the obligations herein authorized, including but not limited to authorizing bond anticipation notes and prescribing the terms, form and contents and as to the sale and issuance of the bonds herein authorized and of any bond anticipation notes issued in anticipation of said bonds, and the renewals of said notes, are hereby delegated to the City Treasurer, the chief fiscal officer of the City.

 

SECTION 8.  The temporary use of available funds of the City, not immediately required for the purpose or purposes for which the same were borrowed, raised or otherwise created, is hereby authorized pursuant to Section 165.10 of the Local Finance Law, for the purpose or purposes described in Section 1 of this resolution.  The City then reasonably expects to reimburse any such expenditures (to the extent made after the date hereof or within 60 days prior to the date hereof) with the proceeds of the bonds authorized by Section 2 of this resolution (or with the proceeds of any bond anticipation notes issued in anticipation of the sale of such bonds).  This resolution shall constitute the declaration of the City’s “official intent” to reimburse the expenditures authorized by Section 2 hereof with such bond or note proceeds, as required by United States Treasury Regulations Section 1.150-2.

 

SECTION 9.  The City Treasurer is further authorized to take such actions and execute such documents as may be necessary to ensure the continued status of the interest on the bonds authorized by this resolution, and any notes issued in anticipation thereof, as excludable from gross income for federal income tax purposes pursuant to Section 103 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”) and to designate the bonds authorized by this resolution, and any notes issued in anticipation thereof as “qualified tax-exempt bonds” in accordance with Section 265(b)(3)(B)(i) of the Code.

 

SECTION 10.            The City Treasurer is further authorized to enter into a continuing disclosure agreement with the initial purchaser of the bonds or notes authorized by this resolution, containing provisions which are satisfactory to such purchaser in compliance with the provisions of Rule 15c12-12, promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

 

SECTION 11.            The City has complied in every respect with all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations regarding environmental matters, including compliance with the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”), comprising Article 8 of the Environmental Conservation Law and, in connection therewith, duly issued a negative declaration and/or other applicable documentation, and therefore, no further action under the State Environmental Quality Review Act is necessary.

 

SECTION 12.            The validity of said serial bonds or of any bond anticipation notes issued in anticipation of the sale of said serial bonds may be contested only if:

 

1.            (a)            such obligations are authorized for an object or purpose for which the City is not authorized to expend money, or

 

(b)         if the provisions of law which should be complied with at the date of publication of this resolution are not substantially complied with,

 

and an action, suit or proceeding contesting such validity is commenced within twenty days after the date of such publication; or

 

2.            said obligations are authorized in violation of the provisions of the Constitution of New York.

 

SECTION 13. The City Clerk is hereby authorized and directed to publish this resolution, or a summary thereof, together with a notice in substantially the form provided by Section 81.00 of said Local Finance Law, in a newspaper having a general circulation in said City and hereby designated as the official newspaper of said City for such publication.

 

SECTION 14.            Nothing in this amendment shall affect the validity of the original April 17, 2007 bond resolution or any action taken there under and any said actions are hereby ratified.

 

  SECTION 15.   This Resolution is effective immediately.

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

70.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

Resolved, at the recommendation of the City Engineer, Jason J. LaMonaco, P.E., that award of the contract for Main Pump Station Electrical Construction Base Bid and Alternate 1 be made to O’Connell Electric, at a cost not to exceed $37,740.

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

71.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, at the recommendation of the City Engineer, Jason J. LaMonaco, P.E., that the award of the Base Bid and Alternate 1 for Main Pump Station General Construction to Kohl Construction, Inc., at the sum of $491,000.

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

72.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

             Whereas, a $25.00 Special Events Application Fee and application were received by the City Clerk from Lindsay’s Legacy 5K Run, and

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

            Resolved, that permission be granted to Lindsay’s Legacy 5K Run to use various streets of the City of Tonawanda for their annual 5K Run being held on Saturday, November 8, 2008, from 11:00 A.M. until the race is completed, and be it further

            Resolved, that a Certificate of Insurance naming the City of Tonawanda as additional insured be presented to the City Clerk no later than November 1, 2008.

 

Special events being charged:  $100.00 for Police services

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

73.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Whereas, the City previously determined that it is in the best interest of the community and its residents to have a New York State Department of Motor Vehicles satellite office located herein the City of Tonawanda; and

            Whereas, the Common Council previously authorized Erie County/New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to use Tonawanda City Hall office space to establish and maintain a Department of Motor Vehicles satellite office; and

            Whereas, Erie County/New York State Department of Motor Vehicles is currently operating said office; and

            Whereas, the City and Erie County/New York State Department of Motor Vehicles desire to continue the current operation of the satellite office; now, therefore be it

            Resolved, that Mayor Ronald J. Pilozzi is hereby authorized and directed to execute the 2008 Memorandum of Understanding between the City and Erie County/New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, a copy of which is on file in the office of the City Clerk; and be it further

            Resolved, that Erie County/New York State Department of Motor Vehicles shall provide proof of insurance with a minimum limit of $1,000,000/$2,000,000 naming the City of Tonawanda as an additional insured.

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

74.       By Councilmember Davis                            seconded by Councilmember Kossow

            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 negotiations, personnel of particular persons and contract negotiations with Woodbridge.

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Nancy Paschen, 5 Main Street – I know summer is coming.  I know you are going to hire help.  I know that people have to have vacations but can you kindly look out for the taxpayer sometime, because the way the money situation is in this whole country, not just in this city but the whole country.  You are not going to be able to pay your bills.  Also, I understand, did you make an appointment with Canal Fest, did you sign their contract?

 

Council President Zeisz – No, we met with them, we will have to do a resolution.

 

Nancy Paschen – Are you going to have a signed contract?

 

Council President Zeisz – At this point, yes.

 

Nancy Paschen – Well, you haven’t gotten paid yet for last year.  If I’m not mistaken I think Mr. Hogenkamp has not received money yet.

 

Council President Zeisz – He did receive money.  Well, most of it.  There is still $2,000 out yet.  That will be taken care of before anything is done with the resolution.

 

Ed Gerbera, 157 Brookside Terr. W. – Why are they stalling?

 

City Treasurer Joe Hogenkamp – They agreed to start paying us an additional $2,000 a year which is suppose to go towards a capital project.  Whether it is a flagpole over by the Harbor House.  At Ives Pond we did something.  There was years where that money was backing up.  We are telling them that they still owe us $2,000.  They are looking back at their records to make sure they agree.  I called the Treasurer.  I brought it up to Larry Denef the last time he was here.  I think that Larry said last time he was here that he was having Randy Fas look into it to make sure that they, in fact, agree with us that there is still $2,000 left out there, of this $2,000 additional that goes back probably three or four years.

 

Ed  Gerbera – They have plenty of money in their kitty don’t they?

 

Joe Hogenkamp – According to Nancy they do.

 

Mark Dennis Zahm, 33 Grove Place – With reference to the reassessments that have been going on and the consequent increase of taxes that are going to be a by-product of that.  I have great concerns for this City in that they are not going to be able to provide commensurate services to justify those increases that we are all going to be hit with soon.  I would like to know if the City has any sort of a plan in effect should this depression get any worse.  I am concerned about the homeowners in this community.  Who is going to be looking out for us.  It is a nice thing that everybody has a job with benefits here and all the rest of it.  And I can tell you I would be very happy for one of those jobs right now.  What is going to happen with all of this should it get worse?  Nobody is going to think it won’t, the way things are going.  Does the City have a plan to protect us and not just the powers that be and those people who work here?  Thank you.

 

Council President Zeisz – To say that the City has a plan to deal with the recession.  I can’t say that we have anything particular in place to deal with that.  No.  We are very much like every other government.  Our purpose is to provide a service.  We are not in the business of making money, per say, like others are.  Ours is strictly service based and there really isn’t a lot that helps protect even us from a recession.  We still have to pick up people’s garbage.  We still have to have police on the streets, firemen.  Unfortunately, it is reality that there is not much that can protect us from ourselves or help the residents in that aspect.  I think the reality is and everybody sees it.  Gas has gone up, grains have gone up, groceries have gone up.  Everything you do is going up.  I did want to make mention of the reassessment.  From our standpoint taxes are not necessarily going up.  Are they going up for some homeowners?  Yes.  Are they going down for homeowners?  Yes.  Some are staying the same.  It is not that we are collecting any more taxes.  Some people are going to be paying more than they are paying today and some people are going to be paying less than they are paying today.  That is the whole purpose of the process to make sure that everyone in the City pays their fair share.  Over the past twenty years there may be homes that have paid too much.  There might be homes that have not paid enough.  That is what the process is all about.  Reval is not about taxes it is about equity of home assessment.  That is what it is all about.  It is not about taxes per se.  That being said I understand exactly what you are talking about.  The general rule of thumb when you do reval is that a third are going down, a third are staying the same, and a third are going up.  That is the general rule and based on the information we have received to date that is kind of the way it is playing out.  We were given a graph and that is kind of the way it is playing out.

 

Councilmember Perkins – I am sorry to interrupt you but actually it was about 50% of the homes that stayed about the same within $100 or something.  I think we were a little surprised that there were so many that stayed in the middle.  We were fortunate in that respect.

 

Council President Zeisz – What the City can do and I would like to say it is something different but one of the things we have tried to do over a number of years now is there are projects that we would have like to have done but we have held off because of our financial situation and that is really more what we can do and what we have tried to do is hold off on projects.  The unfortunate reality is some things we cannot hold off on.  You saw tonight that there is a resolution for the main pump station that is going to call somewhere in excess of $600,000 for the pump station.  It has to be done.  It is not like we can just hope that the pumps hold out and keep pumping the sewage out of the community.  That is the unfortunate reality that we have expenses that we just cannot ignore.  But, I assure you that myself, the Council and the Mayor’s Office, we do everything we can to either hold off on projects that we feel just are not financially feasible right now.  We also try to do the best we can to cut wherever we can.  The thing is that over the course of the last ten years we have eliminated forty employees from the City.  I mean you get to a point where somebody has to do the work.  There just is not a lot of opportunity left to take people out of the workforce.   You just are not going to have enough people left to do the work that has to be done.  I realize that is not the answer you want to hear.  I am just trying to be honest with you and tell you the way it is. 

 

Mayor Pilozzi – We are not in charge of monetary policy in this country.  I wish we were.  I think we have more sense then the people who run government in Washington.  But one thing we do have is you folks standing here every other Tuesday asking us tough questions, sometimes not.  And the reality of it is the people that are making the decisions that effect everything from the air you breath to the water you drink to how the money is spent by government in the sense that it effects total monetary policies in Washington.  Why is it that there were free trade agreements that were done fifteen years ago and everybody thought it was going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Well it isn’t.  Guess what.  There are people all over the world benefiting from it but not our kids.  There is a lot of things that we really don’t control when it comes to monetary policy and the hardships that are thrust upon every citizen of this City let alone this state and country.  Council President Zeisz is right.  There are certain things we can do to control things in our own house and I think we have done our best as a Council and as a Mayor to do that.  One of the things that we are looking at right now and we are going to be talking about it later is we had a meeting a week ago talking about the possibility of getting local banks and maybe some grants to help homeowners take care of their property so at minimum we can overcome some of the blight that occurs because people have to make hard choices.  Do I eat today or do I take care of the gutter that has fallen.  We are doing the best we can at the local level I think to control whatever cost we have to pass down to you the taxpayers.  It is not an easy thing but it is always a challenging thing.  The one thing I find every day when I open the door to that office is something new happens.  The best I can tell you is that I attack them with thirty years of management experience and four different college degrees and so on and so forth.  I am not always right and I am not always wrong and I do my best just like these people all do their best.  I don’t know if that answers your question.

 

Chuck Heylmun, 66 Syracuse Street – I wasn’t going to say anything but having spent several years in the real estate business doing a lot of appraisals I don’t think the public really understands what is going on.  The equalization rate went from the 80% down to 60%.  The appraised value doesn’t mean didly because you take the equalization rate divide it by that and come up with the market value.  That is what you pay taxes on.  I don’t think most people really understand that.  I was going to suggest, you might want to consider is kind of an informational session or something and have everyone come down at one time and ask questions and answer them.  The people that I have coffee with very frequently don’t understand.  Carl is exactly right.  If it is done properly the average tax rate should not go up because of reval.  That is the real truth.

 

Council President Zeisz – I know it doesn’t exactly help now because you do not have the information in front of you but everyone got a letter that explained what your taxes are and what they will be.  All it does is take the total assessed values from all of the City properties and it says your budget is “X” dollars.  You need this much money from the residents to balance the budget.  Then it took the new assessments and did the same thing but it has no bearing on the rate per se.  It is just translating into a dollar figure.  The thing that I found that has been difficult so far is that I have heard some comments that “my taxes have doubled”.  They didn’t double.  But, what happens is that people might have an appraised value that they saw on their taxes as $50,000 but that $50,000 was not 100%.  When you equalize it and turn it into 100% it might have been $75,000 or $82,000 or whatever.  So then you are seeing this new number that is 100% so you have to compare the old 100%, you can’t go by the old taxable amount that you use to have.  That’s been an issue too.  But there is informational sessions and everyone has had the opportunity to sign up for their informal hearings because they are having an informal process where you can come in, discuss your home and they might make the change right there.  Or you can go through the formal process in front of the Board of Assessment Review in late May. 

 

Ed Gerbera -  I am in the process of fixing up my home and trying to get it back up to 100%.  Already I have a $13,000 plus increase in assessment.  They could have at least waited until I fixed my house up to jack me up $13,000 plus. How did we get this assessment?  What did you do go flying by in a car? 

 

Council President Zeisz – We hired a company, this is what they do for a living.  They have people that do residential, business, commercial, so forth.  The individual from this company drove every single street in this City and looked at every single house.

 

Ed Gerbera – Well, he didn’t take a very good look at mine.

 

Council President Zeisz – What you have to understand is assessment is not based on whether or not I have a pool in my backyard.  It is based on property, structure and sales.

 

Ed Gerbera – My property is run down.

 

Council President Zeisz – Did you set up a time for a hearing?

 

Ed Gerbera – No, but I am going to.

 

Council President Zeisz – That is what you need to do.  You need to go in and state your case and they will help you do that.  That is one of the things we have been trying to tell people.  It is based on sales in your area, comparable homes.

 

Ed Gerbera – Suppose somebody overpaid for a house in my area.  That affects me. 

 

Council President Zeisz – That is absolutely true and that happens.  It happens all over the City where somebody might pay more for a home.  But it is based on sales.  It is based on square footage.  It is based on property.

 

Ed Gerbera – I understand all of that.  Thank you.

 

Councilmember Perkins – Part of the reason why I wanted to hire this particular company to do the assessments was because he had come in and he told us, the most important thing that he said that I heard was that he would actually teach our residents what they needed to do to fight their assessments.  Like the Council President said, if you don’t think it is fair you want to go to one of these meetings.  These people and Pat can tell you what you need to do, what you need to show them so that they can change their mind.  Thank you.

 

Mayor Pilozzi – As of this morning I talked to our Assessor and less than 5% of the people of this City all received their reval have actually signed up for the first level of informal hearings.  It sounds to me like the folks that did the job, as Councilmember Perkins has mentioned, did a good job.  Whether or not it is good for you might not be the case but I can tell you this, that from the numbers that I saw more people got a deduction in their taxes then went up.

 

Nancy Paschen – I would like everybody to know there has been quite a few people coming into the Sr. Center looking at that book and taking notes and things like that and I don’t know what they are going to do about it but some persons said they are going to try to get together and try and meet with these people and discuss it. 

 

Rosemary Brady, 298 Willowbend Rd. - This is against my better judgment.  I signed up for a reval assessment on William Street.  I don’t drive.  Like a lot of the Sr. Citizens, number one, some feel inadequate to express themselves.  I don’t because I have my mouth open most of the time.  I feel bad for them.  I had a tough time trying to get somebody to take me down to William Street.  I am supposed to meet with Joe.   Is Joe the one who did the original walking around?  I have no idea.

 

Council President Zeisz – It is Joe Emminger, he is part of the company.

 

Rosemary Brady – I laughed when I got my reassessment.  Because I thought, hum, my backyard has pipes that are inadequate to take the water flow out of the area.  I can remember when kids use to ice skate down there and it was a pleasure to look out my kitchen window and see them doing it.  Now that the City in it’s graciousness has seeded the land that leads to the drainage ditch to the residents, guess what, some of the kids go through and litter as is their want because nobody taught them better.  The cop cars come up and drive right on the area to check out different things that they might want to see.  I can remember when they took mollusks this big out of the pond, as we called it.  It was a pleasure to live there.  I laugh because I look in my backyard now every time it rains and see nothing but water coming up farther and farther.  What am I suppose to tell somebody who comes to see my house.  Would you mind stepping over the puddle, it isn’t like this all the time just when it rains.  What about taking care of the problem of where the drainage from Harvington comes over onto our street.  Was anything ever done about saying, look we know that we paid you money to have this water come over but they are kind of sick of having it because every blessed time it rains we have nothing but puddles and every time it rains I go down into the basement to check to make sure it is not coming up through my shower that I had put down there when my husband was sick or through the drains in the stationary tubs.  The plumber who came out one time three years ago to replace my water tank was sick and tired of working overtime and did nothing but complain while he was there.  Turned the water tank over on its side.  Let it drain out through my fully furnished family room and then was kind enough to take my copper pipe that I had there and took that and probably got something for it…and what do I have now, a piece of plastic that doesn’t do a blessed thing.  The guy who put my roof on for crying out loud didn’t know there were two pages to the contract.  Oh, I could pay you $100 to fix that one pipe but I didn’t realize we had two pages to the contract.  I have a stack of paper that thick of things that were done in the house by people who were licensed by the City and including one plumber that was suppose to put in drain tiles.  God help us, I don’t know where he put the drain tiles.  All he did was complain about how his back hurt.  My ears hurt by the time I got through listening to him.  But this is all going to go down there Wednesday too.  I can understand that senior citizens are reluctant to come out and say “hey where are we going to get the money to pay for this?”  and I laugh because my homeowner’s insurance was cancelled twice, twice.  I am paying somebody in New York City $600 a year to tell me I have a problem.  I knew that. 

 

COMMENTS FROM THE COUNCILMEMBERS AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Councilmember Davis –  Thank you Mr. President.  I would just like to announce that the monies from Senator Cappola and Assemblyman Schimminger have been freed up by the Department of State for us to move forward on wetland delineation and the boundary survey on work that needs to be done in Vets Park so we can start to move that project forward.  I would like to congratulate Colleen.  She is being awarded a public service award for Women’s History Month by our State Senator, Senator Thompson.  The Mayor and myself attended the Quality Student dinner last week.  I would just like to take my hat off to the students that were honored and nominated.  It is four years of hard work and giving back to your community which, as a young adult, you should want to give back to your community and to try and better yourself and give yourself the opportunities that your parents may not have had, my hat’s off to them.  This past Sunday there was an article in the News by Joe Genco which had some false information in it.  Reval was really started before myself or the Mayor were even elected to serve up here.  Surely before Mr. Waterhouse was elected.  Council President Zeisz wanted to do this approximately six years ago.  The City Assessor is the one that brought it to the attention of the Council three years ago.  It was the Council and the Mayor working together.  We passed a resolution.  The Mayor authorized it to go through, to get us to the point where we are today because of eighteen years worth of inequities in the City.  I mean, I really feel for the people whose assessments went up but I really feel for the people whose assessments went down because it is eighteen years that those people have been paying more in taxes than they should have.  There is no way that we, as a City, can refund that money for them.  That money is gone.  But the City is taking the steps now through a collaborative effort through all of us that are sitting up here to make it a more level playing field.  I don’t like paying more taxes.  I have seven kids.  I would much rather have more money to put food on the table or put gas in my vehicle or to take the kids to Chucky Cheese once a month for doing chores around the house.  The fact of the matter is if you don’t like your reassessment, challenge it.  You have heard up here tonight that the reason why we went with this company was because of their good public relations with the communities where they have been in the past.  The people that have shown up and have questioned their reassessments have come with four, five, six, or seven comparables.  They have come armed with information to help them fight this.  If residents don’t fight this and their home assessment is higher than it should be then we really are no better off than we were before we did this.  We are trying to make this a level playing field.  Use the informal session of the grievance procedure in order to challenge it.  By all means please do so.  I would like to send out my condolences to Chief Young and Captain Litz.  Captain Litz’s father passed away the other day and again I would like to send my condolences out to those two and their families.  Last, I would like to thank Mark Schulte and Pat McNulty for their very quick response when my Grandfather suffered a heart attack the other day.  Their quick response may have saved his life so I would just like to take my hat off to those two individuals.  Thank you Mr. President.

 

Councilmember Kossow – I would just like to again congratulate all of the Quality Students that were honored in both Tonawanda and North Tonawanda and students from Cardinal O’Hara and their accomplishments in high school.  It is quite an honor for those children to receive that award.  Secondly, I would just like to wish everyone a Happy Easter and if you are traveling, travel safely.

 

Councilmember Perkins – I would like to let everybody know that on Thursday, March 20th, Senator Thompson is giving the City of Tonawanda a 105th birthday party from 5:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. here at City Hall.  So if you would like to have cake and cookies we wish you would all come and have a little birthday celebration.  Thank you.

 

Councilmember Waterhouse – Thank you Mr. President.  Ms. Brady, I agree with you wholeheartedly that there are a lot of seniors out there that are nervous about standing up for themselves but I also heard Nancy saying there is a group of them down at the Sr. Center and I think that is the greatest thing.  If you are nervous about this talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors.  There is strength in numbers.  You can build your confidence to go to talk to someone.  They have the internet service there too.  You can go on the website and look up what your neighbor’s assessment is.  You can print out the information.  You can see the pictures.  Because when you go for these revals they are going to want to know the data.  It is not that you have to sit there and sell yourself.  Most of this is data driven.  If you have the proof you really don’t have to say much.  But I think it is a great idea, especially at the Sr. Center, that they work together on this.

 

Nancy Paschen – They are afraid to say something for fear that the city workers or employees or whatever you want to call them will come back and harass them and threaten them.  They will not come to the Council meetings.  I have asked them to come.  I will be the voice of them people.  Because I see how they are being treated and it is not right that the City treats them this way.  The employees have to realize it is the taxpayers that pay your wages and their wages.  Thank you.

 

Councilmember Waterhouse – Maybe I misunderstood, I thought you were saying that the seniors were getting together and talking about this.

 

Nancy Paschen – They have been down there talking and looking through the book.

 

Councilmember Waterhouse – That is where you get a lot of information, and on the internet. 

 

Nancy Paschen – But they won’t come up here.

 

Councilmember Perkins – Nobody should be afraid.

 

Councilmember Waterhouse – They don’t have to come here and speak to us they just have to fill out the form.  It is a more informal session that way. 

 

Councilmember Perkins – They should not be afraid.  These are not City workers that are doing these meetings.  It is a private company.

 

Nancy Paschen – I come up here, I complain about the employees, I complain about the wages, about this that and the other thing.  People are not going to do that for the simple reason, you get notes, you get harassed, you get threatened.  I mentioned it to this Council if I am not mistaken, about two years ago and if it kept up with me I was going to an attorney.  Because I have a right to know what is going on in this City.  Everybody has a right to know.  These City employees, the way they act towards us seniors, I am telling you it is terrific.  And as far as the restroom goes in the Senior Center, it is not clean enough for people to use it.  But, people are afraid to come up here and tell you what is going on for the simple reason they have relatives or somebody knows a relative that is working for the City or they are afraid to say anything for fear of repercussions.  It is not right.  I feel sorry for these seniors.  It isn’t right.

 

Council President Zeisz – I have never heard anyone say anything to me ever.  Not even one person.  I can’t believe I wouldn’t have heard something for all of these years.  I have never heard anything about employees threatening anyone or doing anything to anyone.  I am not saying that it is not true.  I am just saying I have never heard anything.

 

Nancy Paschen – I have notes on it and I kept them for my attorney too.

 

Council President Zeisz – Obviously, that is something we would never condone. 

 

Mayor Pilozzi – Thank you Council President Zeisz.  It has been said several times here this evening but during this reval process we have an organization that we contracted with and Councilmember Perkins mentioned this.  One of the main reasons we went with them was because of their public relations effort and that they would interface and interact with the public.  So far I have had no complaints at all from any resident on how they reacted to them or interfaced with them that I know of.  But, if you do have a concern and you think you are being treated unjustly there is a system in place.  There are several publications out there on the table.  There are some at the Sr. Citizen’s and some at the Library.  In fact, I dropped some more off recently to make sure that you had enough there.  If you think something is wrong you have that right to challenge that system and please do so.  I am here to tell you that Mr. Brearly was adamant about setting up a good relationship in this process with each and every homeowner.  I too was at the Quality Student dinner.  It was nice to see young people and how excited they were about getting this award.  It was a well-attended event.  When you get in your 60’s and look back on these kids and you see the promise on their faces and the happiness and their parents too.  It is just a great event to be at.   It is always an event that I look forward to.  Also one thing that has been mentioned already, condolences to the Litz family.  Bill Litz has been around this City.  I guess he was born and raised here.  I am not sure.  He has been on many, as Council President Zeisz just mentioned to me, he has been on many boards, drove the van, came down with, I believe it was larynx cancer, had his larynx removed and walked around with one of those gizmos that radiated his voice.  He beat cancer in that respect for 27 years I believe it was.  Unfortunately his heart gave away this past weekend.  Again, our condolences to the Litz family.  One last thing, there has been a lot of talk about bad things that happen in Tonawanda.  I would like to take about two minutes to read a letter I received from a resident thanking the Fire Department for helping her out during the last snow storm.  (Mayor read letter).    That is not the first time I have received letters like that and I am sure it won’t be the last.  Is everything “peachy keen”?  No.  It never is.  Believe me, I get phone calls everyday to tell me that.  But the fact of the matter is there are some good things happening in the City and for the most part the employees that work for the City of Tonawanda do a pretty decent job.  There is always going to be a couple of bad apples in the bunch and we are going to have to deal with them.  At any rate, everybody have a great Easter.  Don’t eat too much chocolate. 

 

Council President Zeisz  - Thank you Mayor Pilozzi.  This is the thing, everybody talks before me and I have nothing to say because everybody already said everything.  But I would like to congratulate Ms. Perkins for being honored by the Senator in honor of Women’s History Month.  I think it is really great and she has been great to have on the Council.  I am really happy for her.  We will adjourn tonight in memory of Bill Litz.  He was really a great guy.  I offer my condolences to Jim and his family for the loss of his father.  The only thing I can say in addition on the issue of reval is that, I felt like when we started this process over a year ago that we tried to do the best we could to bring in a company that we thought would be “resident friendly” shall I say and we have tried to do whatever we could do to make this process as simple as possible and hopefully as educational as possible for people.  Unfortunately, like you said Mrs. Brady, getting to the place, unfortunately we can’t do everything.  Hopefully for the majority of people it is going to be a process that works well.  I think it has gone relatively smoothly.  The Council really has nothing to do with the process.  We are not involved at all.  We’re taxpayers just like everyone else.  We have to call for our hearing and go in front of them just like all of you do.  We don’t have anything to do with the process.  The only time it will get back to us is when the final role is set in the summer.  Then it will come back to us to address the tax rate for the City.  As far as your comments Ms. Paschen, if there ever is a situation where someone has a problem, they can write a letter, they can write a note, they can call one of us.  I would be more than glad to go to someone’s house if there is an issue.  I certainly would never want a situation where anyone was afraid to say anything.  As Mayor Pilozzi pointed out, God knows things aren’t perfect.  We have our share of problems.  We all know that.  But I do believe and I have always felt this, if I had to pay taxes to one place I would rather pay these taxes than any other taxes I pay.  At least I know what I get.  I know that someone is going to pick up my garbage.  I know if I call the Firemen they are coming.  If I need the Police they are coming.  It is a tangible service I can see.  We pay a lot of taxes.  Where did that go?  Should I just throw my money in the fireplace ‘cause I don’t know where the money just went that I paid the Federal government, the State government or the County government.  Other than that I thank everyone for taking the time to be with us tonight and appreciate your comments and we will see you again.  Have a great night and drive home safely.

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

75.       By Council President Zeisz                                     seconded by Councilmember Perkins

            Resolved, that this Common Council adjourn in memory of William J. Litz until April 1, 2008.  

 

Ayes:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays:  None

                                                Resolution declared adopted

 

 

 

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