By Jann Wiswall
The Ellicottville Town Board met on Nov. 14, 2012, to discuss progress on ongoing projects. The meeting also was an opportunity for the public to comment on three issues before the board: the 2013 Town Budget, Local Law No. 2 – 2012 entitled “A Local Law to Override the Tax Levy Limit for Fiscal Year 2013,” and Rules and Regulations Governing Water Services. There were no public comments on any of the topics, therefore, at the end of the meeting the board voted to approve them as presented.
Privilege of the Floor: Supervisor John Burrell introduced two representatives from supplemental insurance company Aflac. The representatives asked the board for permission to offer coverage to all town employees, noting that village employees already are offered the optional coverage. They explained that there is no cost to the town if employees opt for any of its insurance products; employees pay for coverage themselves.
Lindsey Coburn, Burrell’s clerk, suggested that the town’s insurance broker also be given the opportunity to talk with employees about supplemental coverage. The board agreed, so approved a motion to permit both Aflac and the broker to schedule meetings with employees.
Supervisor’s Report: Burrell shared information he had gathered related to countywide court staff salaries, as well as data on township legal fines collected in comparison to judge’s pay. He also said he had consulted with the town’s insurance agent, who is the agent for Mansfield and is dealing with the Mansfield transportation building fire. Mansfield is adequately covered, but Burrell asked the agent to be watchful for any weaknesses in the town policy. Burrell also shared work he had done with Town Court Clerk Kate Earley to improve the readability of court fine reports clarifying which police department was the source of the fine. The board was pleased with the new format.
Police Department Fall Fest Update: Officer Don Auge relayed to the board that he has attended multiple meetings in the village and town over the past month to discuss issues related to October’s Fall Fest. Town and village police have been criticized by some citizens for their handling of disorderly nighttime crowds; the department is working diligently to ensure such issues do not arise again. For example, Auge has informed all fellow officers that the town’s open-container laws are to be enforced and that there is a zero-tolerance policy starting immediately.
Councilman Ken Hinman spoke on behalf of the board to express its full support of Officer Auge and the entire town police department. “You are the best department we’ve ever had,” said Hinman.
Transportation Building Progress: Highway Superintendent Dave Golley reported that significant progress has been made on construction of the pole barn and that the Highway Department building is progressing, though recent high winds have delayed installation of steel beams and roofing, which also has delayed some other work dependent on completion of the roof. The department received bids for the concrete floor and awarded the contract to R-Patti Concrete, which had the low bid. Rebar has already been delivered; R-Patti should be able to start work within two weeks once some preparatory work is completed, including installing temporary heating. Golley and Town Engineer Mark Alianello reported that National Fuel Gas Company has not responded to numerous requests for service, delaying installation of long-term heating systems. Councilmember John Northrup offered to make a call and see if he can get a response.
As far as winter preparations go, Golley said the trucks are ready for snow. There are still some reserves of sand and salt from last winter, but he estimates he will need to order 3,000-3,500 tons of sand and about 500 tons of salt this year.
Engineering Department News: Alianello expressed some concern about the town waterline extension to the intersection of Routes 219 and 242. The contract has been awarded and the town has already purchased some $60,000 in materials, but the project seems to be stalled and the weather window of opportunity is closing. Alianello has sent the contractor a letter explaining that the job needs to get started per the agreed-upon specifications.
On a more positive note, the floodplain study being conducted on behalf of the town is moving along; a final report is on schedule to be submitted to the board by the end of January. Once the board approves the report, it will be submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for formal map amendment. At that point, town residents whose property no longer is considered to lie on a floodplain may be able to work with their mortgage companies to remove the requirement for flood insurance or to adjust their payments.
Recreational Trail Update: Hinman announced that the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation has agreed to provide grant writing and fundraising expertise for the recreational trail. He also said that the trail committee is considering the possibility of creating a shorter “first leg” of the trail using locally donated materials, equipment, labor and funds. If this could be achieved, the committee believes that grants would be easier to find given the obvious community support and investment.
The next meeting of the Town Board will be held on Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall.