Visitors now have to use elevator and be ‘buzzed’ in
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 29 August 2014
ALBION – Residents who wanted to see the County Legislature typically would ascend the stairs at the County Clerks’ Building at 3 South Main St.
But visitors now have to use an elevator from the bottom floor and be “buzzed” in.
The county took out old tall wooden doors and replaced it with smaller doors with a steel frame. The old doors are being stored. (This picture was taken in late July while the old doors were still in place. A new door is in the back.)
Most of the Legislature's visitors won't be using the new door. They are directed to a door just outside the elevator on the top floor. Legislature David Callard said legislative staff were often caught off guard with two entrances leading to their work area.
The upgraded security is part of an effort to make the county buildings safer for employees, Callard said.
“We’re looking at other departments,” he said. “This is concern for all municipalities across the nation.”
The finished product includes a secure entrance leading into the top floor of the County Clerks' Building.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2014
It doesn’t happen very often but the elected town, village and county boards are united on an issue. They have all passed formal resolutions for more state funding for roads and bridges.
The money is already there, said Legislatore Ken DeRoller, R-Kendall, but the state diverts funding for roads and bridges to other purposes.
The County Legislature, 10 Town Boards and four Village Boards in the county have all formally approved resolutions “Urging Structural Reform of the State Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund.” Carlton was the most recent to approve the resolution, making it unanimous among the elected municipal boards.
Taxpayers pay billions into the Highway and Bridge Trust Fund through taxes and fees but 75 percent of the money is then “siphoned off to pay for borrowing and operating costs of state agencies, leaving fewer dollars for improving our infrastructure,” according to the resolution.
The local government leaders are urging the governor and State Legislature to develop a multi-year plan for the fund to meet the infrastructure needs for bridges and roads in the state.
This is only the second time all municipal boards in the county have passed the same resolution. The boards did it for the first time last year in opposing the SAFE Act, a gun control law approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature in January 2013.
The county, towns and villages also have been pressing the state to better maintain bridges in the county. The canal bridges are particularly worrisome, officials said. There are 26 canal bridges in the county, including seven lift bridges.
Twelve of the 26 bridges have been declared “functionally obsolete.” Another six are considered “structurally deficient” by the state Department of Transportation. Two are closed – Brown Street in Albion and Hindsburg Road in Murray. The Knowlesville lift bridge is limited to one lane and 6 tons.
Other bridges have reduced weight limits below 10 tons, including Transit Road in Albion at 9 tons, Allens Bridge Road in Albion at 7 tons, Presbyterian Road in Albion at 5 tons, and Groth Road at 9 tons in Murray. Most of the bridges are about 100 years old. They were installed when the canal was widened in 1909 to 1914.
The closed and weight-reduced bridges forces longer trips for school buses, fire trucks, tractor trailers and big farm equipment, hindering public safety and commerce in the county, legislators said.
With less state funding for bridges, the county is considering using more local dollars for infrastructure projects so more bridges aren’t closed in the near future. That will put the burden of the projects on local taxpayers.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2014
ALBION – When the log cabin at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds needed repairs beginning about three years ago, the County Legislature directed $5,000 to replacing three of the walls at the site.
Volunteers, including Legislature Chairman David Callard, have worked steadily at removing the old rotted walls and replacing them with new wood.
The refurbished log cabin, including a new front fence, was done in time for last month’s fair, providing a safer and better showcase for local conservation and sportsmen’s clubs.
Leaders of the Orleans County Sportsmen Federation stopped by the Legislature’s meeting on Wednesday to thank the group for their support. The Sportsmen presented a plaque to Legislature Chairman David Callard, who spent a couple days working with volunteers on the project, removing old mortar and tearing out the rotted wood.
The cabin was first completed in 1976 and is used for many hunter safety classes, and conservation programs.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 August 2014
ALBION – In 2011, Orleans County started sending out tax bills that highlighted the local taxpayer costs for the nursing home, state-mandated programs and other general services.
But the county plans to cease the “Truth in Taxation” and return to one line item on tax bills beginning in 2015. The nursing home is being sold and breaking out the categories proved “confusing” to residents, said Legislator Lynne Johnson, R-Lyndonville.
The Legislature will have a public hearing at 4:20 p.m. on Sept. 24 about the changes. The hearing will be in the Legislative Chambers of the County Clerks’ Building at 3 South Main St.
The county will continue to highlight the costs for state-mandated programs, Johnson said, by using a memo box on the bills that says 100 percent of the tax levy goes to state-mandated programs, with Medicaid the most costly.
“We’re still fighting unfunded mandates,” she said. “We aren’t backing off unfunded mandates.”
In other action, the Legislature:
• Appointed Ed Morgan of Holley to serve as the county’s new representative on the board of directors for Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. Morgan is the Murray town highway superintendent and the Orleans County Republican Party chairman.
He will replace Marcia Tuohey, who died on Aug. 7 and represented the county for nearly a decade on the OTB board.
One legislator, Fred Miller, opposed the appointment because he said there should have been public input on who would represent the county in the part-time position.
“It’s the process I’m opposed to,” Miller said.
Legislature Chairman David Callard said the county’s appointment still needs to be confirmed by the state Racing and Wagering Board, and that typically takes two to four months. However, if there is a big change with upcoming state elections, Callard said the Racing and Wagering Board might not approve the appointment until spring. That would be a long time for the county to go without representation on the OTB board.
State Sen. George Maziarz urged the County Legislature to fill the position expeditiously so he could help to have the person confirmed, Callard said. Maziarz is ending his career in Albany after this year.
• Approved purchase of a new boat for the Orleans County Marine Patrol for $219,675. The new boat will replace a 2001 Baja Marine Vessel.
The new boat is a 27-foot-long Walk Around Cabin Marine Vessel. It will be purchased from SAFE Boats International in Bremerton, Wa. The county will spend up to $100,000 in local dollars for the boat to be financed over seven years. Grants from the state Parks and Recreation and state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services will cover more than half the cost.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 August 2014
ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature plans to raise the maximum income levels for senior citizens to qualify for a tax break.
Right now seniors who earn less than $19,200 are eligible for discounts on their county taxes. That level hasn’t been changed since 2007. The new level would be increased by $2,000.
The county will have a public hearing at 4:25 p.m. on Sept. 24 for the proposal. The hearing will be at the County Clerks' Building in the Legislative chambers at 3 South Main St.
Right now the county offers 50 percent off for seniors with household incomes up to $13,500. The sliding scale exemption drops to 20 percent off for seniors with annual incomes between $18,300 and $19,199. It's 0 percent for seniors with incomes at $19,200 or above.
The new proposed schedule includes the following percentage exemptions:
• 50 percent off for incomes up to $15,500;
• 45 percent off for incomes between $15,500 and $16,499;
• 40 percent between $16,500 and $17,499;
• 35 percent between $17,500 and $18,499;
• 30 percent between $18,500 and $19,399;
• 25 percent between $19,400 and $20,299;
• 20 percent between $20,300 and $21,199;
• 0 percent after $21,200.
Staff reports Posted 22 August 2014
LOCKPORT - Gia Arnold has announced that she will resume her campaign for the state senate seat currently held by George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane. Maziarz issued a statement in July stating he would not seek re-election.
Earlier this month Arnold announced that she would suspend her campaign after she admitted to having an extramartial affair. At that point it was too late to remove her name from the ballot for the Sept. 9 Republican Primary.
The Buffalo News has reported that Arnold is reconsidering her withdrawl after many of her supporters reached out encouraging Arnold to stay in the race for the 62nd district seat. (Click here to see the Buffalo News article.)
“To say that I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and well wishes, would be an understatement.” Arnold said.
“When I made my announcement last week, I never fathomed the hundreds of texts, calls and emails that I received, almost all of which called for me to stay in this race and fight what truth, honesty and what is right for our senate district. For me, telling the truth and being honest with my supporters and the citizens is the most important aspect of running for and representing the people, even if it means losing some support and not helping myself,” she added.
Staff reports Posted 21 August 2014
Rob Astorino asks New Yorkers if the state is winning or losing under Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Astorino, the Westchester County executive, says the state ranks near dead last for having the worst business climate in the state.
Astorino, the GOP candidate for governor, on Tuesday unveiled a plan to improve the state’s economy and business climate. He and his running mate, Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss, welcome “fracking” for natural gas, and want to cut taxes and regulations, and increase high-tech and agriculture.
Key components of the economic plan, as released by Astorino’s campaign, include:
1. Regulatory Reform
• Sign executive order on first day instituting a moratorium on any new regulation and a thorough review of the approximately 750,000 regulations currently on the books.
• Adopt the 2,219 regulatory reforms proposed last January and thoroughly vetted by a bipartisan Senatorial working group that conducted nine industry-specific forums across the state.
• Repeal the Scaffold Law
• Reform the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) by reducing costly delays and redundancies and increasing timeframe predictability.
• Reform the Workers Compensation system to include adopting American Medical Association guidelines and American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine treatment protocols to cut down on costs.
• Require agencies to publicly post approval timeframes for permits and licenses and if not adhered to, compensate the applicant for permit and licensing costs.
• Eliminate the incorporation fees for LLCs and Partnerships.
• Allow small businesses with less than 50 employees the option of self-insurance that would allow numerous exemptions from ObamaCare mandates.
2. Tax Relief
• Reduce or hold flat state spending in each of the next four years to begin to get state expenses and costs under control.
• Make permanent the property tax cap.
• Reduce property taxes and strengthen the effectiveness of the property tax cap by passing mandate relief, including reforms to the Medicaid program and Pension system.
• Repeal hidden taxes on health insurance premiums levied through HCRA.
• Eliminate the 18a tax assessment on utility ratepayers.
3. Invest in New York’s Infrastructure
• Start by investing the $3.6 billion BNP Paribas bank settlement money into the most desperately needed repairs to our roads, bridges and mass transit.
• Use portion of BNP settlement money to pay Canal Corporation debt, separate Canal from the Thruway budget and free up money that would otherwise have gone for Canal debt service to pay for infrastructure projects like the new Tappan Zee Bridge.
• Dedicate sales tax revenue from gasoline purchases to pay for investments in roads, bridges and mass transit.
4. Accelerate Energy Development
• Move forward with natural gas exploration and drilling in Upstate.
• Use SBC (System Benefit Charge) funds now at NYSERDA to help pay for the cost of bringing natural gas distribution lines to communities where the service currently doesn’t exist.
• Renew the Indian Point Energy Center license, support Massena in their efforts to be approved for a new plant.
• Alleviate transmission congestion and upgrade the power grid.
• Support other renewable energy sources like Solar, Wind and Hydro and provide grants and low interest loans to farms and businesses that make energy efficient improvements.
5. Accelerate Technology Start-Up Creation
• Offer individuals a state income tax credit to encourage private investing in qualified start-up ventures.
• Streamline the tech-transfer process at state colleges and universities so students and professors can more easily commercialize their inventions.
• Pass a law that bans the enforceability of “non-compete agreements” – keeping more top talent in New York as it would open up greater opportunities for hi-tech workers and entrepreneurs by eliminating unnecessary restrictions on the flow of talent between companies.
• Support entrepreneurial networks with technical assistance to encourage collaboration across communities and organizations that support start-ups.
6. Increase Availability of Skilled Workers
• Create regional councils comprised of local educators and employers to help high schools tailor vocational education programs to match the needs and demands of local employers.
• Make job-training investments directly to community colleges to streamline the training of new workers for local industry needs.
• Increase coordination between community colleges, local school districts and local industry so students can be properly counseled on the present and future availability of jobs, the types of jobs, their pay and benefits, and the skills needed to do these jobs.
7. Strengthening our Agricultural Heritage and Economy
• Create a New York Farmer’s EZ-Pass that eliminates Thruway tolls for New York farm-based trucks transporting farm-to-market products.
• Support the Ritchie/Magee legislation (S.4260/A.6024) that reduces taxes, fees and regulatory burdens on New York’s family farmers.
• Support a pilot program where beginning farmers receive tax incentives to start a farm in New York State.
For more on Astorino and Moss, click here.
Press release, State Assemblyman Steve Hawley Posted 21 August 2014
Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia), a veteran of the National Guard and Army Reserves and ranking member of the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee, is applauding Gov. Cuomo for signing a military assistance bill into law that the assemblyman wholeheartedly supported in the Assembly.
“Our state and our country are forever indebted to those who have served us at home and abroad,” Hawley said. “This law tackles the red tape that hampers professional certification for family members of active duty officers who are moved from station to station. We have also expanded New York’s supplemental burial allowance to include those who were injured on the battlefield, but died here at home − an oversight that was far too tragic to continue.”
Hawley added, “Another great aspect of this newly-signed law is how it assists children affected when their families move from station to station. Every state has its own difficult requirements for high school graduation, and that is often overlooked in legislation that attempts to honor our servicemen and women. Through this much-needed law, we have cut the red tape affecting children’s academic well-being and enrollment issues. This is one law we can all support, and I’m proud to have helped pass it.”
Press release, Congressman Chris Collins Posted 20 August 2014
LOCKPORT – During a press conference at the Crosby’s Gas Station in Lockport, Congressman Chris Collins, R-Clarence, released the following remarks on Tuesday about current energy policies.
“As New Yorkers struggle with some of the highest energy rates in the country, it is clear they deserve significantly better when it comes to our energy policies,” Collins said. “Due to burdensome regulations by the Cuomo Administration, Western New York has had to sit on the sidelines and watch as states with similar resources have been able to capitalize on technologies like hydraulic fracking to provide thousands of jobs and new revenue streams. It is time for Gov. Cuomo to stop hiding behind continuously delayed studies and provide a definitive answer on when the people of New York can expect a decision on fracking.
“It is essential that going forward we pursue the many energy opportunities available. These include exploring hydraulic fracking, protecting of our state’s coal industry, and utilizing a variety of other energy production methods. I will continue to ensure that when it comes to energy, Western New Yorkers will have every opportunity available to benefit from our state’s resources.”
'Teaching Is The Core' to strengthen assessment practices
Press release, Orleans/Niagara BOCES Posted 20 August 2014
MEDINA – The Orleans/Niagara BOCES has been approved for a $400,000 grant from the State Education Department for the “Teaching is the Core” initiative, said Dr. Clark Godshall, BOCES Superintendent.
The grant, funded through New York’s Federal Race to the Top grant, will support the 13 component school districts and the BOCES in their efforts to eliminate locally adopted tests that do not contribute to teaching and learning. In addition, the funds will help the districts identify and improve high-quality assessments already in use that can be included as a component of multiple measures of student learning and school and educator effectiveness.
“The recent outcry over too many school assessments belies the need for quality assessments that are an integral part of teaching and learning,” Godshall said. “While tests provide useful feedback to teachers, parents and students, they must be of high quality and informative.”
Some of the tests do not always support good instruction and sometimes even crowd out time for student learning, Godshall said.
“Testing should be the minimum necessary to inform effective decision-making in classrooms, schools and districts,” he said. “This grant will help reduce non-essential local testing in our region. And, more important, they’ll help teachers teach more and test less, which is exactly what our students need.”
The grant will also support professional development throughout the districts to maintain educational excellence. Albion, Medina and Lyndonville are part of the Orleans/Niagara BOCES.
The “Teaching is the Core” funding will allow the 13 districts and BOCES to:
• Determine which assessments support the instructional goals of the district;
• Determine an appropriate action plan that will eliminate unnecessary assessments and increase the use of diverse and quality assessment;
• Support the use of diversified assessment strategies by encouraging a review of local assessments currently in use for teacher evaluations (APPR); and
• Establish a professional development program that will aid teachers in identifying high-quality assessments and improving assessment practices.
Staff reports Posted 19 August 2014
ALBION – A public transportation agency that started in 2003 in Orleans County will soon have a new name.
The Orleans Transit Service will be rebranded as RTS Orleans, the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority announced today. The parent organization runs regional transit services in Orleans, Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Seneca, Wayne, and Wyoming counties.
The new branding will call all of the smaller county operations RTS, followed by the county name. RTS stands for Rochester Transit Service.
“Our current logos were crafted decades ago, and as we took on new subsidiaries there was no naming structure in place to tie operations together,” said Bill Carpenter, CEO for RGRTA. “We believe this refreshed brand identity more accurately represents our organization—one that’s driving forward to become our community’s preferred transportation choice.”
RTS will continue to be the bus company’s brand name in Monroe County. Lift Line, the authority’s paratransit service in Monroe County, has been renamed RTS Access—highlighting the benefits that the service provides to ADA customers—access to vital destinations that enrich their lives, RGRTA said.
“Our new tag line, Enjoy the Ride, reflects the shared commitment of our 900+ employees to make it easy for our customers to enjoy their journey—wherever their final destination,” Carpenter said.
The public will see RTS’s new identity reflected immediately on its refreshed website (myRTS.com) and in digital communications. Changes will be phased in on bus operator uniforms, bus passes and schedules. Buses and other vehicles currently on the road will incorporate the new logo and design elements gradually. New vehicles will bear the new design as they are purchased.
Regional operations have been renamed to connect them to RTS and reflect the counties they operate in, such as:
• RTS Genesee (replaces Batavia Bus Service/BBS)
• RTS Livingston (replaces Livingston Area Transportation/LATS)
• RTS Ontario (replaces County Area Transportation Service/CATS)
• RTS Orleans (replaces Orleans Transit Service/OTS)
• RTS Seneca (replaces Seneca Transit Service/STS)
• RTS Wayne (replaces Wayne Area Transportation/WATS)
• RTS Wyoming (replaces Wyoming Transit Service/WYTS)
Hawley, Corwin rate above Maziarz in report
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 August 2014
ALBANY – An organization that says it is “pro-taxpayer” and “pro-business” has given two local State Assembly members perfect scores for their positions in the 2013-14 legislative session.
Steve Hawley of Batavia and Jane Corwin both received 100 out of 100 from Unshackle Upstate. The organization rated legislators on their legislative and budget votes as well as sponsorships of targeted bills during the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions. (Click here to see the scorecard.)
State Sen. George Maziarz received a score of 83. He lost points from Unshackle for co-sponsoring S.3995-B Mail Order Pharmacy Limitation and S.3863 Healthy Workplaces. Unshackle said the legislation would slow or repress the growth of the state economy.
Maziarz, R-Newfane, also lost points for supporting S.3564 Job Order Contracting.
“Recent polling has shown that taxes and job creation are key issues for people across the state,” said Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate. “Our 2013-2014 legislative scorecards accurately reflect which legislators have advanced measures that help taxpayers and job creators. As we head into the election season, we encourage voters – especially in Upstate communities – to look at how their legislators performed over the past two years before they cast their vote.”
Maziarz is not seeking re-election. Unshackle said he supported 14 of the 17 legislative actions favored by the organization.
Unshackle highlighted legislation for brownfields redevelopment, healthcare cost containment, energy costs, asbestos remediation tax credit, liquefied natural gas, rural broadband and the state budget.
Hawley represents a district that includes all of Genesee County, most of Orleans and part of western Monroe. Corwin represents the town of Shelby in Orleans and portions of Niagara and Erie counties.
Unshackle will endorse candidates this election, but the organization said a minimum score of 85 is needed for its support.
“There’s no doubt that this year’s elections will have a significant impact on the state’s ability to continue its economic progress,” Sampson said. “In order to keep our economy moving in the right direction, it’s critical to gauge a candidate’s commitment to reducing taxes and improving the business climate. Any candidate that receives our endorsement will be held to a very high standard. Taxpayers and employers deserve nothing less.”
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 August 2014
The second round of state standardized tests, which are aligned with Common Core Learning Standards, show that most local students are not meeting proficiency levels in the tests for grades 3 through 8.
State-wide only about a third of students are at proficiency levels for the math and English tests. The percentage of students who are proficient in math rose from 31.2 percent to 35.8 percent, according to test results released last week by the State Education Department.
The percentage for English Language Arts barely changed, with proficiency rates increasing from 31.3 percent to 31.4 percent, according to the state Education Department. Students who are proficient or higher score a 3 or 4 on the exams.
Here are the proficiency levels for each test in the five local districts in Orleans County:
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 August 2014
CARLTON – The winner of the Orleans County Fishing Derby just started coming to Orleans County to fish about two years ago. Debbie Murphy of New Albany, Pa., made the trip to the county on Monday.
She landed a 27-pound, 7-ounce Chinook salmon that day. Murphy and her boyfriend were on his boat, about 2 miles from the Oak Orchard Harbor when she reeled in the heaviest fish for the Orleans County Fishing Derby. She received her $4,000 grand prize during an awarded ceremony this afternoon.
Murphy and her boyfriend Allen Hubler fished in Orleans after some of their friends talked up the area. The couple hasn’t been disappointed.
“It’s always a good time,” she said. “There’s always the chance when that line goes off that something big could be on it.”
Hubler landed the second biggest Chinook in the salmon division with a 26-pound, 3-ounce fish. Murphy caught hers on Monday morning. After they brought it in to a weigh station, they returned to lake and Hubler caught his big fish, which was good for a $300 prize for second in its division.
Murphy said she has been fishing all of her life. She said she still has a lot of learn about fishing in lake Ontario. She caught the grand prize fish with a silver-streaked spoon. She said she will be back to fish in Lake Ontario again.
“I love this area,” she said. “It’s a very beautiful area.”
The Albion Rotary Club organizes the annual derby. Typically about 700 register for the competition, which runs for about two weeks. This year the entries was down to 531, mainly due to a tough final week with cool weather and choppy waters.
This year’s derby winner was smaller than the one last year. Foster Miller of Holley won in 2013 with a 34-pound, 13-ounce Chinook.
The derby gives out $8,800 in total prizes. Besides $4,000 for the biggest fish, the four division leaders each get $500, followed by $300 for second, $200 for third, $100 for fourth and $50 for fifth. The Orleans County resident that catches the biggest fish gets $200. Heather Saeva won that prize with a 23-pound, 15-ounce Chinook salmon.
The following were the division leaders:
Bill Magee of Northwood, Ohio with a 26-pound, 13-ounce Chinook; Destiny Bickel of Burt with an 18-pound, 11-ounce brown trout; Mike Schaeffer of Sligo, Pa., with a 14-pound, 1-ounce rainbow trout; and David Johnson of Rochester with a 17-pound, 6-ounce lake trout.
Ashley Ward has been chairman of the derby for the Rotary Club for many years. He said this will be the last time he will be the chairman. He is handing off the reins to Bill Downey and Brad Shelp.
“It’s kept my mind occupied and it’s kept me busy,” Ward told about 100 people gathered for the awards program at the Carlton Recreation Hall. “I’ve enjoyed it and I’ve enjoyed seeing you folks every year.”
Jeff Winters helped lead a turnaround at local YMCA
By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 17 August 2014
MEDINA – Four years ago the YMCA was mired in an $80,000 annual operating deficit, a building in need of significant repairs and a modest membership base.
Jeff Winters had a law degree and a good job at the time. The Medina native likes a challenge and likes people. He took on the task of leading the Orleans County YMCA.
Four years later the organization is nearly complete with $400,000 in renovations to its historic building, a former Armory on Pearl Street. The organization is profitable and has quadrupled its members to 2,200.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done here,” Winters said. “The organization is set up for the future. It’s on a good path.”
Winters, 31, is leaving the Y on Sept. 12. He will be executive director of the American Cancer Society in Albany. He has been living in the state capitol since last October, when he got married to a woman he met in law school. He commuted to Medina on Monday mornings and left for Albany on Fridays for nearly a year. Winters was committed to seeing the Y work through a capital project.
He leaves with praise and deep appreciation from the Y board of directors.
“Jeff has infused a level of energy and professionalism that has been instrumental in helping us achieve growth and renewed confidence in a key institution,” said board member Dean Bellack. “He will be missed. On behalf of the board, we wish him the success that we are sure will grow in time.”
The Y is accepting applications for the director’s positions until Aug. 29. Resumes should be sent to Scott Taylor, GLOW YMCA director, at email@example.com. For more on the position, click here.
The Y in Orleans County now has 52 employees. Winters credited the “Y Team” for making the organization and its programs sought after in the community. Residents are drawn to Y programs that promote healthy living, social responsibility and youth development, Winters said.
The Chamber of Commerce honored Winters with a community service award last September for his efforts at improving the Y in Orleans County.
Editorial by Tom Rivers Posted 14 August 2014
MEDINA – Town officials from Ridgeway and Shelby seem to be making a good faith effort at shared service talks with the village of Medina. It could lead to easing the tax burden for villagers in Medina, who pay the highest combined tax rate – about $54 per $1,000 of assessed property – in the entire Finger Lakes region.
Maybe the town officials, who have been given Medina’s budget figures, can pull a rabbit out of the hat and find ways to knock down the village tax rate. Shelby Town Supervisor Skip Draper said the town might take over some of the village’s non-emergency costs. It would seem that would raise the town taxes, but we’ll see what the town and village officials can come up with.
A committee that looked at dissolution of the village already has a plan for continuing village services in the two towns or through local development corporations. The town leaders say they will not consider that plan.
But at least the town is at the table, talking with the village. They had a joint shared service discussion on July 28.
Other elected officials should come to the table and the discussion should be broadened. I don’t think shared services will make much of a dent in the village’s tax burden. Shared services won’t bring any new money into the community. With dissolution, Medina would get $541,000 from the state annually as an incentive for reducing the layers of government. That money is the most compelling factor to dissolve. The projected savings through efficiencies in government only amounted to $277,000, or less than 3 percent of the combined $11 million budgets for the two towns and the village.
The village has been starved with next-to-nothing in state aid and very little in sales tax from the county. Medina’s downtown business district has enjoyed a renaissance, but that sales tax generated by Medina businesses feeds the coffers of the state and county.
That is the real problem in Medina: not enough revenue. County and state officials should take a seat at the table and explain why there is so little state aid and county sales tax for the village. The state gives the village about $7 per person in aid while similar-size small cities get $100 to $150 per person. See a Jan. 27 article in the Orleans Hub, "State shortchanges villages with aid, leading to their demise," to see the painful realities.
The local leaders should pass resolutions demanding a fair formula for “Aid and Incentives to Municipalities.” Orleans Hub laid out a chart showing the disparities in aid between cities and villages in the Jan. 27 article. I thought there would be genuine outrage and our county, town and village leaders would unite in demanding more money for our villagers. If this formula was tied to the wealth of a community – like school aid – Medina and Albion, with about 6,000 residents each, should be getting well over $1 million in state aid. Instead each village gets about $40,000.
But there hasn’t been a single resolution calling on the state for an equitable formula. We’ll keep beating that drum at the Orleans Hub, hoping to spur the locals to engage in that fight, which may require a lawsuit against the great State of New York. (This is how the schools were able to get more money.)
In short-term, our state legislators or their staffs should join the discussion in Medina, and offer ways to make the community viable long-term. The Medina downtown is home to many new businesses in recent years, but that is a mirage to the problems in the village. The overall tax base is going down while taxes continue to go up.
The county has frozen the sales tax share to towns and villages since 2001. The sales tax revenues have jumped in the past 13 years, but all of that increase has gone to the county.
The towns and villages are given about $1.3 million of the $15 million total local share. The four villages collectively only get about $400,000 of that and the village share drops because the formula is tied to the assessment of the community.
The sale of the nursing home presents an opportunity to revisit the formula. The county will soon be freed from paying nursing home debt and deficits. About $800,000 to $2 million will be taken off county taxpayers annually.
The county should unfreeze the formula, and have at least a 90-10 split with the towns. Some of those nursing home savings should be giving back to the villages and towns in sales tax revenue. It would take about $150,000 more to get the towns and villages to $1.5 million of the sales tax, or 10 percent of the $15 million local share.
A revamped formula, giving the towns and villages 10 percent of the sales tax, may not be enough. Maybe an 89-11 split or 88-12 – or even more is needed to fight the decline in the villages. The county leaders should share their position on the issue at a joint meeting with local officials.
The county might be able to assume some of the village and town services. Some counties, such as Wyoming, handle all code enforcement. Orleans should consider taking on that job to take some of the workload off the villages.
I give Medina and the two towns credit for at least talking. Our other villages – Albion, Holley and Lyndonville – would be wise to have joint meetings with their town neighbors as well, and the county and state should show up with ideas and determination.
By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 14 August 2014
Gia Arnold may have withdrawn from her State Senate bid, but she will still appear on the ballot for a Sept. 9 Republican Primary against Rob Ortt, the North Tonawanda mayor.
Arnold halted her campaign after admitting to an affair. She has since moved from Holley to Lockport.
However, she told The Buffalo News if she wins the Republican Primary she would resume campaigning in the general election against Johnny Destino, a Niagara Falls attorney who has the Democratic Party line. (Click here to see Buffalo News article.)
The News reported that it’s legally too late to remove her name from the ballot, according to the state Board of Elections.
Ortt issued a statement on Wednesday about Arnold withdrawing from the race:
“Anyone who has ever been involved in politics knows the importance of putting family first. I respect Ms. Arnold's decision to focus on her family at this time and wish them all the best,” he said. “I remain committed to the task of earning the support of the people of the 62nd Senate District in hopes of serving as their Representative in Albany.”
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