EVGV Trail Open House October 5
By Jann Wiswall
Following discussion of the law changing the highway superintendent position from an elected to an appointed position (see cover), the Town of Ellicottville board continued its regular monthly meeting on Aug. 20. Town Supervisor John Burrell began with good news.
The new flood plain maps authorized by FEMA are available at the town hall and on the town’s website for public review until Feb. 4, 2015. Residents are encouraged to view the maps to determine if their flood insurance requirements can be eliminated or reduced.
Also, the town has received its second quarter sales tax check from the county. Compared to the same quarter last year, revenues increased by 5.27 percent.
Privilege of the Floor
Becky Szpaicher, head of the Ellicottville Summer Youth Program, reported that the program served 79 children ages 4-13. All of the school-age children are students at Ellicottville Central School.
Burrell noted that the Village of Ellicottville provides the facilities and the Town of Ellicottville funds the 14 employees, but that the entire school district benefits from the program. He proposed asking Great Valley and Salamanca, which both have children from their communities attend the camp, to contribute to the cost next year. The board asked Burrell to pursue it.
In a surprise to all, Szpaicher announced that she is resigning from the position. As a parting request, she asked the board to increase the hourly pay rate for the camp’s seven lifeguards next year.
“They are the lowest paid lifeguards around,” she said.
Burrell noted that they also pay for their own lifeguard certification, which Szpaicher said costs $100. The board said it would consider her request and thanked her for her service.
Two of seven owners of a vacation property on Townline Road attended the meeting to ask about the status of their request to re-institute town maintenance of the road leading to the home. The issue was brought to the board’s attention two months ago by another owner.
Town Engineer Mark Alianello, Town Attorney Kathleen Moriarty and Highway Superintendent Dave Golley have met to try to address this complicated issue involving easements and road ownership. Burrell said that the board has everything it needs from the owners, but that there are still questions to be answered before “we can tell you what our options are as the town board.”
Burrell said he and board member Greg Fitzpatrick had met with the town’s accountants, who recommend that the town set up several capital reserve budgets to save funds for future repair and maintenance expenses.
Fitzpatrick explained that the town’s fund balance has been increasing over the past several years. In an audit situation, he said “the state might say we have too much money in any one fund.” Establishing capital reserve budgets allows the town to keep annual expenses consistent and avoids showing spikes. It also helps ensure that the town stays below the state’s 2 percent tax cap by spending out of reserves.
Police Officer in Charge Don Auge reported he had trouble finding a judge to arraign an individual arrested on a felony charge on Aug. 16. Neither of the town’s judges was available, so county dispatch called others. After leaving messages with 12 area judges, a judge in New Albion was located. Nine hours later, the individual was arraigned and remanded to jail. Two officers worked overtime until the issue was resolved.
Auge said this is a rare problem, but asked the board to think about potential future situations. The board agreed there should always be a judge on call. Burrell said he would speak with the supervising judge about a solution.
Auge also reported that planning for Fall Festival is going well. One complication is providing police coverage for a privately sponsored 5K race at Holiday Valley that Saturday morning, which will divert them from the village. Most members of the board felt that the race organizers should be required to arrange and pay for police service. Auge said he would talk with the special events committee about a solution.
Alianello reported that WestMont Ridge engineering is nearing completion. He is meeting next week with HoliMont General Manager Dave Riley, Mansfield Supervisor Bob Keis and Mansfield’s Code Enforcement Officer/Building Inspector Gil Wiswall to work through inspections and upcoming project expectations.
Meanwhile, the East Tank Project is on schedule and the municipal bonds are going on sale on Aug. 27. At Alianello’s request, the board approved a motion to accept the low bid from bond issuers and authorize Burrell to sign.
The rezoning of a parcel of land along Route 219 from “conservation district” to “medium density” zoning was passed by the Town Planning Board at its last meeting. Alianello said the request is scheduled to go before the County Planning Board next week. The board set a public hearing on the matter for its September meeting.
Alianello asked for permission to solve drainage issues in Pine Tree Village using funds from the town’s “drainage district” budget. The board agreed.
Finally, the board asked Alianello to go out to bid on a project at Holiday Valley linking water lines to Upper Road. Alianello agreed but felt it was unlikely that work could be completed before winter.
Burrell reported he has renegotiated the health insurance plan for municipal employees through Independent Health and that the town will save $24,000 per year.
Board Member Ken Hinman reported that a raffle raising funds for the Ellicottville-Great Valley Trail is exceeding expectations. The raffle drawing will be held during Fall Festival, where the Trail Committee will have a booth. He also said the committee is sponsoring an open house Oct. 5 for the trail at the Town Center. People will be able to hike a small part of the proposed trail.
The next meeting of the town board will be on Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. in the Village/Town Hall.