Council Chambers

Tonawanda, New York

November 17, 2009

 

A Regular Meeting of the Common Council

 

Present:  Council President Zeisz

Present Councilmembers: Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis

Excused:  Perkins

 

Pledge of Allegiance led by Council President Zeisz

 

Prayer led by Council President Zeisz

 

COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE MAYOR

 

A letter from the Erie County IDA Leadership Council dated November 12, 2009, regarding the creation of an eligibility criteria for projects seeking IDA incentives.

 

A letter from the Department of the Army Corps of Engineers dated November 10, 2009, regarding the Seaway FUSRAP Site Record of Decision.

            Ordered filed

 

COMMUNICATION FROM CITY OFFICIALS AND CORRESPONDENCE

 

The following monthly reports were received by the City Clerk:

  • January 2009 through September 2009 minutes of the Tonawanda Housing   Authority

  • Revenue and Expense Reports for the City of Tonawanda General Fund Budget, Water Fund Budget and Sewer Fund Budget as of November 17, 2009

    Referred to the Committee of the Whole

        Ordered filed

 

MOTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS

 

215.     By Councilmember Waterhouse                  seconded by Councilmember Kossow

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

 

Ayes: Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

216.     By Councilmember Davis                                        seconded by Council President Zeisz

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

 

Ayes: Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

217.     By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

Whereas, a Project, for the Rehabilitation of the Culvert carrying Niagara Street over Two Mile Creek, in the City of Tonawanda (City), Erie County, PIN 5757.57, (the Project) is eligible for funding under Title 23 U.S. Code, as amended, that calls for the apportionment of the costs such program to be borne at the ratio of 80% Federal funds and 20% Non-Federal funds; and

Whereas, the City of Tonawanda desires to advance the Project by making a commitment of 100% of the Non-Federal share of the costs of the Preliminary Engineering (Design I-VI) phase of the project PIN 5757.57

Whereas, the City budgeted funding for Niagara Street design work in its approved fiscal year 2009 capital budget; now, therefore be it

Resolved, that the City of Tonawanda Common Council (Council) hereby approves the above-subject project; and it is hereby further

Resolved, that the Council hereby authorizes the City to pay the Non-Federal share of the cost of the Preliminary Engineering (Design I-VI) phase of the Project or portions thereof, with the Federal share of such costs to be applied directly by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) pursuant to Agreement; and it is further

Resolved, up to $50,000 is hereby appropriated from the Cityís 2009 Capital Budget and made available to cover the cost of participation in the above phase of the Project; and be it further

Resolved, that in the event the Non-Federal share of the cost of the projectís Preliminary Engineering (Design I-VI) phase exceeds the amount appropriated above, the City of Tonawanda shall convene the Council as soon as possible to appropriate said excess amount immediately upon the notification by the New York State Department of Transportation thereof; and be it further

Resolved, that the Mayor is hereby authorized to execute all necessary Agreements, certifications or reimbursement requests for Federal Aid on behalf of the City with the New York State Department of Transportation in connection with the advancement or approval of the Project and providing for the administration of the Project and the Municipality's funding of the local share of Federal-Aid Eligible Project costs and all Project costs within appropriations therefore that are not so eligible; and be it further

Resolved, that a certified copy of this resolution be filed with the New York State Commissioner of Transportation by attaching it to any necessary Agreement in connection with the Project; and be it further

Resolved, this resolution shall take effect immediately.

 

Ayes: Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

218.     By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Whereas, a $25.00 Special Events application fee has been received by the City Clerk from the Downtown Merchants Association to hold their annual WinterWalk and

            Whereas, the application has been 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 the Downtown Merchants Association to hold their annual WinterWalk on Saturday, December 5, 2009, 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 30, 2009.

 

Ayes: Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

           

219.     By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that permission be granted to Riverview Elementary School to use various streets surrounding the school to hold their annual ďTurkey WalkĒ on Tuesday, November 24, 2009, beginning at approximately 1:30 P.M.

 

Ayes: Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

220.     By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Whereas, a Special Events application fee has been received by the City Clerk from the Twin City Catholic Club, Inc., to hold a Chowder Sale on City property located behind 55 Main Street and

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

            Resolved, that after approval from the appropriate department heads, permission be granted to the Twin City Catholic Club, Inc., to hold a Chowder Sale on Saturday, December 5, 2009, from 6:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M., 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 30, 2009.

 

Ayes: Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Council President Zeisz Ė At this time, Iíll take comments from the public.  I ask you to state your name and address, and please put your comments or questions into a three- minute time period please. 

 

Robert Derner, 286 Niagara Shore Drive Ė  I was thinking about what you said at the last meeting about that you didnít want to have an outside entity telling us what to do.  Right now, donít we have a number of State mandates and County mandates that you have to do, that are telling me what to do?    

 

Council President Zeisz Ė Well, we do have, for an example, Municipal Law governs some of the things in the City.  For an example, cities have to have police and fire departments.  Towns arenít required to do that. 

 

Robert Derner Ė Okay, but this is what I want to ask, okay?  The State retirement fund for City workers amounts to $1,300,000 and the hospital insurance that the City pays is $3,000,000 so the total is $4,000,000 almost $4,700,000, roughly 49.6% of the total property tax that we charge the property owners in the City.  Thatís almost half of that money goes for those two items alone.  If we were combined with say, the Town and Kenmore, together weíd have a population of 92,000 people, weíd have more of a voice than what we have right now.  Right now weíve got 14,000 people in the City of Tonawanda and weíre a City.  Kenmore has 16,000 and theyíre a Village. The Town has 62,000 people and theyíre a Town and weíre just a pimple in the whole area here. Even the lawyer for the City in this reassessment thing doesnít even know the difference between the City and the Town.  I think he must know when he gets his check but he certainly doesnít know when he sends his correspondence out.  What Iím getting at is, why, what would be the harm in finding out if dissolving the City would be a benefit to the property tax, on the property taxes to the property owners.  Thatís all Iím asking, just to find out.  I think the people deserve to have that knowledge, thatís all.  Even myself, if it shows, if the figures show that it wouldnít be feasible, Iíd be against it myself, but I think we should all know what it is. 

 

Dave McCormick, 613 Niagara Street in the great City of Tonawanda Ė I set up with Antoine Thompsonís Office, about a month ago, for a bus stop cover, shelter up on Hinds Street.  A lot of seniors have been sitting on the curbs up there.  I saw one of them almost get hit, so I found out now that I really should have went to you guys first to see if it was all right and where I should put it up there.  A girl in his office called me the other day and said sheís moving on it so most of the time you wait years, but sheís moving ahead with this thing so maybe I should clear it with you guys, where I should put this.  Itís going to be like a shelter, up on Hinds Street.  I know you guys were talking with the director of the traffic and that in here just a little while ago, so Iíd like to put that on, if you guys could talk about it because itís probably gonna happen.  Hinds, right where Colonial and Hinds, right there.  Thereís a bus stop already there but itís gonna be like a shelter and that.  And another thing, I just like the City of Tonawanda, I think thereís a great bunch of people that work hard in this City.  The other day, I couldnít believe when I watched one of the garbage men, back and forth slamming my garbage can, I mean, whatís he trying to break it?  He gets done, he actually bends over and pulls the garbage that was stuck in the bottom of my garbage can.  You canít get that kind of service anywhere else.  I donít want to see our nice City join a bigger city and start losing little stuff like that.  Sometimes you just gotta tell people to move on and I think Mr. Derner should finally move on.  You made a nice buck in the City, now he wants to get rid of the City, I think he should grow up and say, hey my taxes doubled, everybodyís taxes went up, you pay for your services, you like your services, you move on.  Thank you.

 

COMMENTS FROM THE COUNCILMEMBERS AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Councilmember Davis Ė Iíd like to just take a second to comment on Mr. Derner.  I donít think anybody up here thatís staying isnít for a study but you make it sound so easy that, you know a study will be the end-all, do-all, that itís gonna to show that one way or another that thereís gonna to be a savings or not, but in order for us to merge with another community, another community has to want to take us, number one, number two, it has to be advantageous for them to take us.  So all of this talk about merging with another municipality really is a moot point, number one, until the studyís done, and number two it has to be advantageous to those communities.  So as of right now, I canít see any positives, be it the Town or North Tonawanda, picking up the City of Tonawanda.  Like Mr. McCormick said, you know I moved back here after the Air Force because this is where I grew up.  Itís the City of Tonawanda; itís not the Town of Tonawanda.  People that donít live here in the area, yes Iím sure they can get confused between the Town, the City, and North Tonawanda, but I do like the small town, home town feel of the City and I will continue to call this place home and hopefully the City of Tonawanda for many years to come.  Election results are final, Iíd like to, I thanked the Mayor earlier today, but I would just like to publicly congratulate him on winning another four years and Chuck, I congratulated you last Council meeting but Iíd like to congratulate you again, and Blake for winning a really tough, close race.  I mean, I got the scars from this past election, but looking forward to seeing some new faces on the Council in the upcoming weeks here and Iím gonna reserve the comments of all of us departing members for the last meeting and lastly, Iíd like to with everybody a Happy Thanksgiving.   

 

Councilmember Kossow Ė Iíd also just like to offer my congratulation to Blake and welcome him back to the Council after a little hiatus, and also Iíd like to wish all the residents of the City a very healthy and Happy Thanksgiving. 

 

Councilmember Waterhouse Ė Well, weíll go three for three.  Iíd like to congratulate Bill, Chuck, and Blake also and wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving. 

 

Mayor Pilozzi Ė Iíd obviously like to thank everybody that ran and took the time, the effort and the guts to run for public office, again, win or lose.  We did it and itís always tough when you lose.  Believe me I know that.  I lost three times before I won once for this particular job and itís kind of gut wrenching.  But the fact of the matter is, you had the guts to do it and thereíre a lot of people sitting home that unfortunately, didnít even go out to vote.  You look at the election four years ago, there were 5100 voters.  This year it was around 4,000.  Thatís kind of a sad commentary on our system if you ask me, but regardless again, my thanks and my respect for everybody that ran, win or lose.  Itís a great experience and one you should be proud of.  Just a comment on Mr. Derner.  I donít think we need to merge.  I think we need to continue to find ways to reduce the cost of government.  Thatís really the bottom line.  We have had ongoing discussion with our school board, had folks in from Buffalo, North Tonawanda, Town of Tonawanda, trying to look at if we can save some money on sewage, delivery and treatment of it.  Those are the kinds of things I think that we can control ourselves, that we can go out and find ways to save money for the taxpayers.  We did that this past year with health care insurance.  Itís still high, thereís no question about that, but we reduced the cost by around $200,000, if not more.  Thatís the kind of thing we need to continue to do and itís really, to me, the way to do business.  I would never be in favor of a merge, at least not in this time.  There was a Walkability Study done a few weeks ago and the report came out, I think it was a week ago Friday I went to this event in Buffalo, and I got a letter off to the folks that did this because I think they are wrong.  I think if you look at our community and look at the curb cuts at all the intersections, I donít think youíll find a community that has more handicap access, especially at streets.  There was a problem, there was no question about it, we took care of it, it was a State run light at the corner of Seymour and Niagara, but I think they also made a mistake on the way they counted the timing of it.  Lastly, Thanksgiving is coming up.  We all have so much to be thankful for.  Itís hard times weíre living in today, thereís no question about it. Iím at the tail end of my American dream.  My grandparents came right from Italy and they came for a reason and that was to give their kids and their kidís kids, which is me, a better life.  I feel sorry young people today that are looking for a job, and even some of the young folks that are married with children that are in their 20ís or early 30ís, itís a tough, tough go out there.  Regardless, itís still American, we got a lot to be thankful for, and I wish everybody a very Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy your family.

 

Council President Zeisz Ė And to beat a dead horse, Chuck my congratulations, Bill, Blake, looking forward to Blake sitting next to me again at the Council meetings, congratulations Mayor Pilozzi.  One comment I wanted to make, which probably, Iím sure the news isnít that interested in or anyone else here except for the new Councilmembers.  I think in the time Iíve been here, one of the things that Iíve been pretty good about, maybe not always, no oneís perfect, is when the electionís over, we work together.  I consider Ron my friend.   I think weíve worked hard to work together for the benefit of the City, and I think that thatís one of the things that I try to do and I pride myself on, is the fact that I try to work for the benefit of the City.  I donít care if youíre Republican, youíre a Democrat, or what you are.  When we get in the room on January 1st our job is to do whatís best for everyone thatís here.   I believe that Ron knows that of me and Iím just kind of laying that out there so that everybody understands where I come from and what I expect.  Itís not about trying to do anything special for any certain people.  I did make that mistake once about fifteen years ago and that will never happen again.   Iíve had a couple years to work myself into this job.  As far as the issue with dissolving into another community, Rick touched on some important points, would anybody even want to take us into their community, but from the City standpoint, I think everybody knows after last meeting where I stand.  I am not in favor of it.  I think it would be a huge mistake for our community.   People that have lived here and spent their entire life here did so for a reason.  Yes, there was, Iíll be the first to admit, there was a price to pay for staying here.  Our taxes are, you know, higher than weíd like them to be but there was price a lot of us were willing to pay.  We wanted to know that if we called for help, the Police would be there in no time.  In less than a minute the Fire Department would be there in less than a minute.  Thatís what Iíve been willing to pay for and a lot of other people that live in this City have been willing to pay for that.  But that being said, New York State does put a lot of pressure on, not just us, but every community in this State and until New York State addresses some of the issues that are sitting right in front of them, right on a plate, nothingís ever going to change.  Mr. Derner brought up the pension and I said this before, weíre up to $1,300,000 in our pension contribution.  Now, and Iím not sure of the exact timing, but about six years ago, that was $195,000 and weíre just getting crushed by some of these bills and you know, the tiering system in New York State has been a huge issue and thereís an opportunity there that they have not addressed, they have not even broached, you know it was brought up during the budget process and it was just left there.  Thatís just one example of how they could deal with employee cost.  It doesnít even affect existing employees.  It would only affect new employees.  But thatís just an example of the stuff that comes down that does hinder communities tremendously and you know, I said it when we went through the budget process.  Our budget for next year is actually over $500,000 less than this year, but when you add in the extra health and the pension, it goes the other way.  My point being, that $500,000 came from somewhere and that came from improvements we could have made, or changes we could have made, thatís whatís killing us.  One of the people brought up the issue that, ďwell, itís gonna be difficult for us to fix streets and sidewalksĒ.  You gotta do something, you canít just let them fall apart.  As it is, weíve got enough issues.  From a City standpoint, I think weíve got some good things in place but weíre gonna need some help and weíre not the only ones.  A lot of places, they need help.  I think the worse is yet to come and Iím not trying to be the bearer of bad news that everyone doesnít know about, but when New York State runs out of that stimulus money, somethingís gotta give and I donít know where itís coming from but somethingís gotta give.  But Iím sure this wonít be the last time this issue will get talked about.  Have a great night, have a great Thanksgiving and weíll see you next month.  Drive home safely and God Bless you. 

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

221.     By Councilmember Kossow                                               seconded by Councilmember Davis

            Resolved, that this Common Council adjourn until, December 1, 2009.  

 

Ayes: Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

 

 

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