By Jennie Acklin
Short-term rentals was the first topic discussed at the Monday, July 10 meeting of the Ellicottville Village Board. Steve Frank has one of seven permits issued by the Village, and doesn’t feel the $200 annual permit fee is fair, when so many other homes are rented out on a short-term (less than 30 days) basis without a permit.
“I’m tired of paying the $200 when everyone else in the village doesn’t pay the fee,” said Frank.
Currently, the village law not only prohibits short-term rentals, but also requires owners who rent their homes for more than 30 days to obtain an annual permit. They also must have an annual inspection by the village code enforcement officer to check smoke detectors, safety issues and set occupancy maximums. Few village property owners are aware of the law, however, and rent for a day or weekend or week, and often rent to far larger groups than should safely occupy a home.
Additionally, no new permits have been issued since 2005, and they don’t transfer with the property.
The board discussed waiving the permit fee, and a motion was made and approved to suspend the $200 fee while continuing to require property owners to obtain a rental permit, until such time that the Village board revises the language of the rental permit law.
Justice Court Audit
Village Judge Jack Rogan addressed the board next about whether or not an outside accounting firm audit was required, versus having the audit completed internally. The state auditor informed Rogan that, “It is not necessary to have an outside audit. The required annual audit may be done by themselves.” In 2016, Rogan asked board member Patra Lowes to complete the audit, and it was presented to the board in July/August 2016. Mayor Burrell refused the paperwork, stating that he wanted an outside audit, according to Lowes. The minutes from July 11, 2016 reported that the court audit report was tabled.
Rogan continued to raise the question of why an outside audit was required. “Why do we need to spend the taxpayers’ money?” he asked. The village court has now received letters that the audit report is delinquent, and Rogan wanted to know why this hasn’t been addressed.
Board member Spencer Murray volunteered to work with Rogan and Lowes to produce monthly audits, and complete the 2016 annual audit report. The board approved, and thanked Murray for his willingness to take on the project.
Got Grass? Got Mud?
The continuing issue of village sidewalks/grass areas was brought up again. Many patches of grass between the sidewalks and streets have deteriorated into muddy strips. Lowes met with the Alley Katz about coming up with a plan, and will be ready to present the final suggestions and drawings as soon as possible. A pilot test area on Monroe Street, between Hughey Alley and Washington Street, has been proposed, where all options of pavers, grass combined with hosta plantings, to a wider sidewalk will be considered. The board requested a possible on-site special meeting for July 24.
Murray asked the board to consider the need of a crosswalk sign and a painted crosswalk in the street for the pedestrian traffic between the Wingate Hotel and Finnerty’s Pub. The possibility of adding a few parking spots in front of Finnerty’s was also mentioned. Village DPW will visit the site with Mayor Burrell, and determine the next steps to be taken.
Cattaraugus County Youth Baseball Project
In the April 2017 meeting of the Cattaraugus County Board of Legislators, $600,000 was granted to the Olean Business Development Corp. for “repair, maintenance and upgrade of youth baseball fields in the towns of Allegany, Ellicottville, Franklinville and Portville, and the cities of Olean and Salamanca, designated for tournament play.” Additionally, $50,000 will be allocated for other youth baseball fields located within Cattaraugus County.
The Village Board approved the proposed resolution to participate in the project, and will have the contract reviewed and returned to Catt. Co. this week.
Resolutions to approve a Town/Village Engineer were made, and included a job description for the position (and a salary range of $80,000 – $120,000 to be shared by the Town of Ellicottville and Village of Ellicottville), approval for the Town to hire an engineer and to enter into a shared agreement with the Village, and establishing an engineering office (a $400,000 grant will be applied for to cover hardware equipment and software for the potential new office, requiring a 10 percent local share.)
Code of Ethics Vote Held
At the June 2017 regular meeting of the Village board, a public hearing was held on the proposed Code of Ethics. New York State mandates that all municipalities adopt a CoE, and the Village has not complied up to this point.
A discussion followed, eventually resulting in Board member Greg Capelli making a motion that the Board take a vote to adopt the CoE as presented in the June public hearing. The vote was taken as follows: Joe DiPasquale YES, Greg Capelli YES, Patra Lowes YES, Spencer Murray YES, John Burrell NO.
The next regular meeting of the Village board will be held on Monday, August 7 at 6 p.m.