Albion, many Orleans towns rank low in affluence rankings

Albion is 797 of 861 communities in upstate, according to report from Business First
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 June 2015
A report ranking the affluence of 861 communities in Upstate New York puts every town in Orleans County, except Kendall, behind the average for measuring wealth in a community, with Albion ranking near the bottom.

Kendall fared the best among the Orleans towns when 12 factors were considered. Kendall has a median household income of $58,859 compared to $38,739 in Albion.

Buffalo Business First posted a report today (click here) that puts Clarence and Orchard Park in the top 20 of affluence in upstate. Clarence is seventh and Orchard Park is 18th on the list of nearly 1,000 cities and towns throughout the 48 Upstate counties. Pittsford, a Rochester suburb, tops the list.

Business First based its rankings on 12 indicators of wealth and earning power. All raw data came from the five-year version of the U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey.

To measure affluence, Business First weighed median household income, households with incomes of $150,000 or more, poverty rate, households with 3 or more vehicles, adults with bachelor’s and advanced degrees, and other factors.

Scores were based on each community’s performance relative to the Upstate averages in all 12 categories, Business First said. Above-average dollar figures or percentages received positive marks, while below-average readings were given negative scores. The 12 scores for each community were added to determine the final rank.

Here are the rankings from each of the 10 towns in Orleans County:

Kendall, 229th and affluence score of 26.901, the only town with a positive score in the county;

Gaines, 385th, score of -4.599;

Clarendon, 391st, score of -5.351;

Barre, 427th and score of -12.674;

Carlton, 463rd and score of 18.936;

Ridgeway, 480th and score of -21.012;

Yates, 577th and score of -38.459;

Murray, 772nd and score of -73.152;

Shelby, 776th and score of -75.517;

Albion, 797th, score of -84.059.

Here are the highs and lows in Orleans County with the 12 categories in the report:

1. Median household income: Kendall is highest at $58,859 and Shelby is lowest at $36,995;

2. Per capita income: Kendall is highest at $27,600 with Albion the lowest at $15,024;

3. Households with incomes of $150,000 or more: Yates is highest at 5.99 percent and Murray is lowest at 1.57 percent;

4. Households with interest, dividends or net rental income: Kendall is highest at 29.07 percent and Gaines is lowest at 14.87 percent;

5. Poverty rate: Shelby is highest at 21.75 percent and Clarendon is lowest at 8.73 percent;

6. Upper quartile house value (75th percentile): Carlton is highest at $165,100 and Albion is lowest at $112,600;

7. Median house value (50th percentile): Kendall is highest at $118,500 and Albion is lowest at $77,200:

8. Houses with 9 or more rooms: Gaines is highest at 19.07 percent and Clarendon is lowest at 9.36 percent;

9. Households with 3 or more vehicles: Barre is highest at 29.78 percent and Yates is lowest at 10.30 percent;

10. Workers in management, business, science and arts occupations: Clarendon is highest at 38.99 percent and Yates is lowest at 21.11 percent;

11. Adults (25 or older) with bachelor’s degrees: Gaines is highest at 23.25 percent and Albion is lowest at 12.20 percent;

12. Adults (25 or older) with advanced degrees: Kendall is highest at 9.29 percent and Murray is lowest at 1.89 percent.

For more on the Orleans County towns, click here.


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$75M for paving state roads includes section of 98 in Orleans

Staff Reports Posted 22 June 2015

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced resurfacing projects totaling $75 million will be completed this year on approximately 428 lane miles of state highways across New York. That includes Route 98 from Route 31A to Route 104 in Orleans County.

Funding for these projects was accelerated into this construction season in order to repair widespread damage from deep frost over the winter.


“It’s important to keep the state’s highways in top shape, and after another harsh winter, we’re expediting critical repair projects to ensure the roads are safer for New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “This funding will speed up much-needed resurfacing and rebuilding efforts, which is good for motorists across the state.”


These accelerated paving projects are in addition to more than $437 million in capital construction funds dedicated to paving an estimated 2,311 miles of state roads in the 2015-2016 State Fiscal Year.


Depending on the location, the New York State Department of Transportation’s resurfacing projects will include paving over sections of rough road, removing the worn top layer of pavement from all travel lanes and shoulders, repairing base concrete and/or asphalt and installing a new asphalt riding surface.


Wherever practical, pavement that is removed will be recycled and reused, either at the same location or in future construction. Traffic signal vehicle detectors will be replaced and new pavement markings will be installed as needed.


“By accelerating essential resurfacing projects into this construction year, we are able to mitigate some of the damage caused the severe freeze-thaw cycle that contributed to advanced road deterioration this winter,” said DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald.


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Sheriffs’ Association will send 12 kids from Orleans to camp

Press Release, Sheriff Scott Hess Posted 22 June 2015

ALBION – Orleans County Sheriff Scott Hess is pleased to announce that 12 children from Orleans County will attend the NYS Sheriffs’ Association’s Summer Camp this year.

Located on Keuka Lake in Yates County, the Sheriffs’ Summer Camp is designed to provide a solid recreational program combined with the development of a sense of good citizenship. The camp has been in operation since the mid-1970s and is supported by the NYSSA’s honorary members through their contributions and annual dues. This year, as in the past, the camp will accommodate hundreds of deserving kids from across New York State from June 28 through July 4.

Throughout their week-long stay, these children observe special exhibits and demonstrations presented by Sheriff’s Deputies and other law enforcement personnel from across the state. Included are D.A.R.E. presentations, boat- and bicycle-safety programs, law-enforcement equipment & technical demonstrations, pistol & archery competitions, and a talent show.

Upon completion of their stay, all campers will be awarded a certificate for their participation in a program of Good Citizenship & Law Enforcement Studies.


The following children are the 2015 Orleans County attendees:


From Albion: Maria Cruz, 12, Kaitlyn Ramirez, 12, Raul Cruz, 11, Vanessa Perez, 10, Alejandro Samsel, 10, Anayeli Cruz, 9, Charles Samsel, 9, and Raja Warren, 9.

From Kent: Brianna Sample, 10, and Aries Schuster, 10.

From Lyndonville: Tyler Sietmann, 12.

From Waterport: Elizabeth Inman, 11.


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Retiring teacher in county jail says education offers ‘second chance’

Provided photo
A reception was held this afternoon at the Orleans County Public Safety Building honoring Patricia Morrisey, a retiring teacher with the Albion Central School District. She taught inmates in the county jail for 30 years. She is pictured with Scott Wilson, the jail superintendent.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 June 2015
ALBION – It may not seem like a dream job for a teacher, but that is how Patricia Morrissey describes her part-time job the past 30 years at the Orleans County Jail.

She worked with young inmates, ages 16 to 21 who hadn’t graduated from high school but wanted to work towards earning a General Equivalency Diploma.

Morrissey helped the students learn the fundamentals in math and reading, and many of the students were motivated to get their GED.

Morrissey is retiring from the job. Today she was recognized at a reception at the Orleans County Public Safety Building.

Morrissey worked with small class sizes, sometimes only two to five students. Sometimes as many as 15.

“It was a very unique situation, working in that kind of setting,” Morrissey said today. “I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Morrissey worked for the Orleans-Niagara BOCES for the first 13 years before her employer became Albion Central School, which is responsible for offering an education to people up to age 21 if they haven’t graduated.

Morrissey said the younger inmate population has shrunk over the years. She remembers when they were as many as 40 students over the course of a school year. This year she had 15 students for stints of the school year. Some of those inmates may be in the jail for a few weeks.

Morrissey connects with students' teachers and tries to keep the students on track for earning school credits. Other students focus on earning a GED, which is now the Test Assessing Secondary Completion, a more rigorous test than the GED, Morrissey said.

Many of the students have done well in the smaller class setting, with a focus on mastering the basics in math before moving on to algebra and even trigonometry.


“You’re their cheerleader,” Morrissey said. “You get them to believe in themselves because you’re working with kids who often haven’t been successful in school.”


Morrissey worked in the jail three hours daily from Monday through Friday.


Many of her students earned GEDs, and Morrissey helped point some of them to college.

“I certainly became attached to a lot of them,” she said. “There’s no question that for many kids this was their redemption. It provided them with a second chance.”


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Nursing home's new owner challenges $6.6 million assessment

File photo by Tom Rivers
The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center became privately owned this year and was added to the tax rolls for the first time at a $6,618,900 assessment. Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services LLC bought the site for $7.8 million.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 June 2015
ALBION – For the first time since the nursing home was constructed in 1960, the site on Route 31 in Albion was added to the tax rolls this year.

The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center was purchased for $7.8 million by Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services LLC. The site has 120 beds, including a rehabilitation unit.

The site went on the tax rolls in May with a $6,618,900 assessment. Assessors factored the site’s market value and its annual income in trying to determine the assessed value, said Dawn Allen, the director of real property tax services in Orleans County.

The new owners of the nursing home are challenging the $6,618,900, filing a grievance saying the assessment should be lower. A final assessment will be determined before July 1 by the Board of Assessment Review.

The site is just outside the Village of Albion and won’t give the village a much-needed boost in its assessed value. However, the Town of Albion, Orleans County and Albion Central School will all see a jump in their tax rolls.


Comprehensive would have to pay $211,606 in taxes to the town, county, school district and library based on a combined $31.97 tax rate on a $6,618,900 assessment. Every $1 million in assessed value means $31,970 in taxes.

Another nursing home in the county also is challenging its assessment.

Global Health Care purchased Orchard Manor Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, a 160-bed nursing home on Bates Road, in 2012 from Medina Memorial Hospital. The site sold for $4.1 million and that has been it’s assessment since going on the tax rolls for the first time in 2013. That site is located within the Village of Medina.

Global Health Care has filed a grievance, challenging the assessment. The issue will be considered by the Board of Assessment Review, weighing information from Global and the local assessor.


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State Senate passes bill requiring state to maintain lift bridges

Photo by Tom Rivers
The lift bridge in Eagle Harbor is one of 17 on the Erie Canal, and one of seven in Orleans County.


Press release, State Sen. Robert Ortt Posted 17 June 2015
Legislation sponsored by State Sen. Rob Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) would close unreasonable loopholes in the canal law and hold New York State responsible for maintaining and repairing canal infrastructure before lift bridges fall into disrepair. The bill (S2658) passed in the State Senate on Tuesday.

“Under this bill, the state would be mandated to improve deteriorated lift bridges, and would no longer be able to skirt current law by simply closing the bridge,” Ortt said. “It’s absurd to think that letting infrastructure needs fall to the wayside is acceptable. Not only would this measure address safety and economic concerns, it would also hold the state accountable, close loopholes and ultimately protect our children and communities.”

Currently, the New York State Department of Transportation and the state Canal Corporation, under the direction of the Thruway Authority, are required to maintain canal lift bridges. Certain loopholes in the law, however, often result in the deterioration and closure of the bridges. As the law currently stands, the state can choose whether or not to repair a canal lift bridge as long as there is an alternate transportation route.

In addition, a rundown lift bridge may not be closed, but often times restricted to emergency and commercial vehicles, including tractor trailers, school buses, and other large trucks exceeding a certain weight limit. As a result, residents and those in the agriculture industry are forced to take alternate routes that are typically longer and end up costing more money in travel expenses.

The bill would require the state to maintain canal lift bridges, but doing so in a way that would not hinder commerce, transportation of students, or agriculture.

“Local commerce takes a hit when farmers or other small businesses can’t cross a restricted canal bridge, because of a weight limit,” Ortt said. “It’s unfair to make farmers, school buses, and tractor trailers travel 25, 30, 40 miles out of the way to get where they need to go. That, along with ignoring vital infrastructure needs, is completely unacceptable.”

Additionally, the bill would call for at least one public hearing before a lift bridge is closed.

The bill is being sent to the Assembly.


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Niagara-Orleans broadband effort recognized at summit in Albany

File photo by Tom Rivers
Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson is pictured on March 24, speaking about the disadvantages facing many Orleans County residents and businesses due to unavailable or low-quality Internet access. She addressed David Salway, director of NYS Broadband Program Office, during a roundtable discussion at the Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension. Tom Biamonte (left), owner of Shelby Crushed Stone, said his company suffers because there isn’t Internet on Blair Road in Shelby. David Godfrey, a Niagara County legislator, is second from right and Ken DeRoller, Orleans County legislator, is at right.

Staff Reports Posted 16 June 2015
ALBANY – A two-county collaboration to bring high-speed Internet to underserved rural pockets of the community was recognized last week in Albany as the “Most Collaborative Broadband Program.”

Niagara and Orleans counties have been working on the initiative to extend broadband throughout the two counties through the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance.


Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson and Niagara County Legislator David Godfrey were recognized with the award at the 3rd Annual NYS Broadband Summit. Hosted by the NYS Broadband Program Office, the event honored New York’s outstanding broadband industry leaders.

Johnson and Godfrey were acknowledged for leading a dual county initiative to deliver affordable broadband Internet to unserved address points in both Orleans and Niagara counties after an intensive study revealed more than 3,900 unserved addresses existed in areas the New York Broadband Map had documented was almost 100-percent covered.

In reality, the county leaders said only 65 percent of the rural areas in both counties had access to high-speed Internet. Cable and Internet providers are able to report to the state that an entire census block has Internet coverage, even if only one house on the block has Internet access, which has resulted in inflated coverage reports across New York State.

Johnson and Godfrey were nominated for the award by the Ridgeway Town Supervisor Brian Napoli, who several years ago identified the need for more broadband throughout Orleans and initiated talks on how to expand it.

In early 2014, a NORA-commissioned study from BPGreene & Associates revealed the unserved address points in both Niagara and Orleans counties. Regionally, it was well known there were many areas with no coverage which would hinder economic development efforts, if left unaddressed. NORA’s survey results provided overwhelming data that was so concrete the state accepted NORA’s study to formally update the New York State Broadband Map.

Along with Legislators Johnson and Godfrey, the 2015 Broadband Summit also commended Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the "New NY Broadband Program" created so all New Yorkers would have access to reliable and affordable high-speed Internet service by 2019. The state has committed $500 million to the effort.

Through the NORA Broadband Initiative, Johnson and Godfrey have addressed the lack of connectivity for many residents, small and agri-businesses, tourism and other industries in more rural counties.

The work from NORA has the two counties well positioned to access state funding for high-speed Internet expansion.

“As legislators, we could no longer ignore the broadband gap that existed,” said Orleans County Legislature Chairman David Callard. “We are proud to be part of this trailblazing initiative and thankful for the support of the NYS Broadband Program and Governor Cuomo through his New NY Broadband campaign.”


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Self Advocate All Stars honored by regional association

Photos by Tom Rivers
Mike Woodward, a member of the Self Advocate All Stars at The Arc of Orleans County, is pictured on the group’s float during Saturday's parade in Holley. The All Stars won a first place award in the parade.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 June 2015
ALBION – They have marched in parades, washed cars, presented at County Legislature meetings and made other efforts to reach out to the community.

The Self Advocate All Stars in Orleans County have been recognized for their efforts by the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State. The western region of that association held a conference on Friday and honored the All Stars as the “Self Advocacy Group of the Year.”

“They have seen how active our group is,” said Jonathan Doherty, one of leaders of the All Stars. “We give back to the community.”

The group formed in 2006. One of its early goals was to rail against official government use of the “R-word.” The County Legislature in May 2010 passed a formal resolution, telling local, state and federal governments to no longer use the word “retarded” in describing people with developmental disabilities.


The R-word is a “vicious slang” that is insulting and hurtful to people with developmental disabilities and their families, legislators said in their resolution five years ago.

Vickie Randall works for The Arc of Orleans County and serves as an advisor to the All Stars. She said the group raises its own money for trips and for attendance at regional conferences.

The All Stars have stayed passionate about participating in parades and being active in the community, Randall said.

“It’s very important for them to say to the community, ‘We’re here and we want to be a part of you,’” Randall said. “They have strived really hard to get the word out that they are capable and willing to be active in the community.”

The All Stars visit local nursing homes, cemeteries and are working on adopting a highway to clean the roadsides of trash.


For more on the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State, click here.

Jonathan Doherty walks in Saturday’s parade in Holley with the Self Advocate All Stars. He is holding the plaque for the award the group won the previous day in Niagara Falls.


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Muslim community says mosque in Waterport threatened by lawsuit

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 7 June 2015
ALBION – Protestors are out at Courthouse Square today trying to raise awareness of an impending court action that could make a mosque in Waterport no longer available to the World Sufi Foundation.

The local Muslim community has used the mosque on a dirt road in Carlton for 37 years. Many people have been married at the site on Fuller Road over the years. The mosque continues to be used for services and prayers, said Bilal Huzair, deputy director for the World Sufi Foundation.

He said a former wife of one of the mosque’s ministers has filed a lawsuit, seeking possession of the building. The issue has been argued before James Punch, acting State Supreme Court justice, and his decision is expected soon, Huzair said.

“This is not an individual’s property,” he said about the mosque. “We’re being held back from practicing our faith.”

About 50 protestors began walking along Main Street by the courthouse at about 10 a.m. They plan to be there until 4 p.m. today.

“We want to make sure our freedom of the Constitution is upheld,” Huzair said. “Our focus is on preserving our rights.”

Huzair said some of the protestors weren’t part of the World Sufi Foundation, but were supportive of the group’s effort to raise awareness of the case.

“We want to make sure this doesn’t happen to another church,” Huzair said.

Huzair said the lawsuit should worry all of those concerned about faith and liberty. He said the lawsuit contends the site on Fuller Road and also a community-run medical office are not religious properties and should be seized to settle a private lawsuit that does not directly involve the community.

“This is an abuse of the legal process,” Huzair said. “The court should have dismissed this outrageous claim immediately. Instead they have left us hanging for months not knowing if our place of worship would be sold out from under us.”


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Organisciak says he would be ‘working sheriff’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 June 2015
MEDINA – Don Organisciak worked 30 years as a police officer for Medina, with 16 years as a patrolman, then a year as a sergeant and the final 13 years as the Medina Police Department’s first full-time criminal investigator.

Organisciak retired in June 2008 and would work two more years as the school resource officer for Lyndonville Central School.

He misses police work and welcomes the chance to return to law enforcement. On Wednesday he was backed by the Democratic Party as its candidate for sheriff.

“I wouldn’t reinvent the wheel,” he said about the job as sheriff. “I’m a cop’s cop. If you don’t have happy employees they won’t want to work for you.”

Organisciak currently is a part-time school bus driver in Medina. He has lived in Medina all of his life. He and his wife Jacalyn have two grown sons.

Organisciak said his top goals would be good response times for officers called for complaints and emergencies, and a department with strong morale.

“The first thing is to protect the residents of Orleans County,” he said. “With the staff I’d have an open-door policy.”

There is now a three-way battle to be the next sheriff to succeed Scott Hess, who is retiring on Dec. 31. The Republican Party endorsed Tom Drennan, chief deputy of the Sheriff’s Department, and the Conservative Party backed Randy Bower, a dispatcher for the Sheriff’s Department.

Republicans holds a 2-1 edge in enrollment over Democrats in Orleans County and that makes it difficult for a Democrat to win a county-wide election.

However, political observers note that Drennan and Bower could split the Republican vote, and Organisciak could pull out a narrow win in November with a big turnout from Democrats as well as votes for Organisciak from other residents.

Organisciak said he believes he has the experience to do the job and be a strong leader for the department. The job is largely administrative, but Organisciak said he wouldn’t limit himself to working at a desk.

“I’d be a working sheriff,” he said. “I wouldn’t ask my men to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. From my time as criminal investigator, I’m used to being called out at night.”

Organisciak said he knows many of the officers in the Sheriff’s Department, State Police and even FBI from his time as criminal investigator.

“I have a good rapport with the other law enforcement agencies,” he said.


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Democrats endorse retired Medina police officer for sheriff

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 June 2015
ALBION – The Orleans County Democratic Committee unanimously endorsed a retired Medina police officer and investigator to be the county’s next sheriff.

Donald Organisciak has Democrats backing to run against Republican-endorsed Tom Drennan, the current chief deputy of the Sheriff’s Department, and Randy Bower, a county dispatcher who has the Conservative Party endorsement. Incumbent Scott Hess is retiring after Dec. 31.

About 20 members of the Democratic Party Committee met on Wednesday and gave the party endorsement to Organisciak.

“He has a good track record,” said Jeanne Crane, chairwoman of the Democratic Party.


The Democrats last month endorsed Fred Miller for another two-year term as county legislator. Miller, the owner of Family Hardware in downtown Albion, is the only Democrat on the seven-member County Legislature. The Republican Party opted against endorsing a candidate to run against him this election.


Democrats endorsed another candidate for Legislature on Wednesday. James White, a current senior in college, was backed to run for legislator against incumbent Don Allport for an at-large seat.

Crane said White was been active at Democratic Party events.

“He’s always been interested in politics,” she said about White. “The committee felt he was young and we don’t want to discourage anyone.”

Crane said the party still has time to endorse additional candidates for county offices.


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Governor says tax cap has slowed tax growth in Orleans, NY

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 June 2015
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pressing the State Legislature to make a tax cap permanent as part of the current legislative session. The governor said the cap has slowed the growth of taxes in the state, including in Orleans County.

Statewide, taxes grew an average of 5.3 percent annually from 2000 to 2010, the governor said. Since the cap was enacted, taxes have grown annually an average of 2.2 percent over three years.

The tax cap tries to limit the increase in taxes to 2 percent annually, although local governments have the option of overriding the cap. About 85 percent of governments have been able to stay within the tax cap, with school districts having the highest rate at about 95 percent.


“The tax cap has succeeded in taming out-of-control property tax increases throughout this state and it must be extended to ensure property taxpayers continue to be protected from the crushing burden of skyrocketing tax increases," Cuomo said. “I urge the Legislature to act this session to keep the cap and continue the progress we have made to deliver tax relief to all New Yorkers.”


The governor travelled to Nyack in Rockland County today to highlight the success of the tax cap.


In Orleans County, taxes grew an average of 4.4 percent annually from 2000 to 2010, but then grew an average of 2.2 percent a year the first three years of tax cap, according to state data. The tax cap has saved the average Orleans County taxpayer $405 over the three years, according to the state.

Cuomo says the tax cap is one in a series of tax relief initiatives over the last several years in an effort to change New York's "tax capital" mentality and provide much needed relief to businesses and homeowners.


He said middle class tax rates are at their lowest since 1953, the corporate tax rate is at its lowest since 1968, and the manufacturing tax rate is at its lowest since 1917.


The governor has pushed incentives for property owners if their local governments meet the tax cap. The latest incentive includes efficiency plans for each county. If those counties can show at least 1 percent savings through shared services and cooperation, the property owners in their communities will receive checks from the state. The Orleans plan showed about 12 percent in savings. (Click here for more information.)


Cuomo also believes there are too many layers of government and that is partly responsible for the high property taxes. He has proposed incentives for local governments to either dissolve or merge. The Village of Medina considered dissolving, but village residents soundly rejected that, 949 to 527, in a referendum on Jan. 20.


“New York has an arcane, duplicative and complicated local government structure,” according to a report today from the governor’s office. “Developed over centuries, local government in the state consists of numerous, overlapping governments and special districts. An individual can simultaneously live in a county, town, village, school district, fire district and library district – all of which have separately elected governing boards that can raise property taxes. This is both confusing and costly to the taxpayer.”


For more on the report from the governor today, click here.


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Orleans municipalities exceed benchmark for efficiency savings

Governments say savings top $3 million annually

Photo by Tom Rivers
This photo from last Sept. 19 shows Greg Rosato, from the Orleans County Highway Department, filling the county’s paver with road material for Depot Street in the Village of Albion. The county has the only municipal-owned paver in the county and uses it for many town and village projects.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 June 2015
ALBION – Municipalities in Orleans County have spent the past several months documenting how they share services and functions with other municipalities, trying to put a dollar amount on those savings.

The tally is over $3 million in savings and that only includes efforts since 2012. The towns, villages and county have tried to share equipment and services long before that so the savings are actually higher, local officials said.

The state has tasked the municipalities to come up with a “Local Government Tax Efficiency Plan” to try to reduce local taxes. If municipalities can show a 1 percent savings, their property owners will be eligible for a rebate check.

In Orleans County, the four villages, 10 towns and county government take in about $27 million in taxes a year. The state told the municipalities in each county to identify at least 1 percent in savings for the total tax levies. For Orleans County, that 1 percent represents $273,001.

But the county’s efficiency plan is far greater than that: $3,207,502 in savings or $2,934,501 above the target.

“This is what we must do to survive,” said David Callard, chairman of the Orleans County Legislature. “We’re really doing some consequential things.”

The state set a target of 1 percent savings and the Orleans municipalities are at about 12 percent with their cost-cutting efforts and with shared services the past three years. Callard said he expects that percentage will be hard to beat among the other counties.

“I’m very interested in seeing how we stack up,” he said. “The county is standing very good.”

Callard, however, said the local government efficiencies have been years in the making and aren’t the result of a state decree.

“None of this is inspired by our friends in Albany,” said Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer. “These are things we were doing all along.”

Callard doesn’t like the implication from the state that the local governments may be bloated with excess staff and redundant services.

“It’s infuriating that the state is putting the local governments to task when the state should be doing the same thing,” Callard said.

He believes reining in some state programs would provide much bigger tax relief.

Local taxpayers should receive small checks from the state as part of the local tax savings. That also aggravates the local officials because the state will appear to be offering the savings when it comes from the officials at the local level.

The efficiency plan from Orleans County highlights many shared services at the local level that are saving money. Some examples at the county level include:

• The partnership with Genesee County, where the two counties share a public health director and three other staff, as well as a joint contract for busing disabled preschool children, has saved Orleans about $328,275 annually, Nesbitt said.

That arrangement alone has more than exceeded the 1 percent savings target for the county.

• Orleans also contracts with Genesee for youth bureau administration services, which saves Orleans $13,490 a year. Genesee also provides tax mapping services to Orleans, saving Orleans $12,500 a year.

• Orleans has also reduced 22 staff positions from Jan. 1, 2012 to Dec. 31, 2014, which has a annual savings of $1,020,058. This reduction does not count the 100-plus workers at the former county nursing home. That site became privately owned in January.

• Selling the county nursing home and moving those employees from the public to private payroll will save taxpayers $1.5 million a year, according to the county’s efficiency plan.

At the town and village level, savings noted in the report include:

• The Village of Albion counts $36,000 in savings through shared paving services with local towns and the county, and $63,000 by running Holley’s sewer plant.

• Carlton included $1,300 in savings through new energy efficient lighting at the town buildings.

• Clarendon replaced a full-time employee with a part-time employee at annual savings of $14,054.

• The Village of Holley says it saves $40,000 a year through a contract with Albion, having Albion personnel paid to run Holley’s sewer plant rather than Holley staff or an outside company.

• Kendall counts $20,000 in savings through a consolidation of fire districts. Kendall also said it saved $31,200 by sharing an assessor with Carlton, $20,000 by working to establish a health insurance consortium, and $1,000 through more efficient utilities.

• Murray counts $70,000 in savings by combining fire districts.

• Shelby counts $4,762 in savings new water meters that need less manpower, $3,865 in savings for joint park maintenance with Ridgeway and the Village of Medina, $1,165 in savings for joint procurement with Ridgeway and the Village of Medina, $3,026 for jointing water billing with Medina, and $385 in savings for an automatic flushing system.

• Ridgeway sees $2,222 in savings through a joint purchase and ownership of an equipment trailer, $500 in savings through joint purchasing with Shelby and Medina, and $200 in benefit through energy efficient lighting.

• Yates put down $500 in savings through energy efficient lighting at the town hall and highway garage.

The report provides a snapshot of some of the money-saving efforts at the local government level, Nesbitt said. He said it proved a good exercise, adding up some of those savings.

“It’s important to let the public know we are working very hard to lower their costs,” he said.


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County planners approve several projects in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 May 2015
ALBION – The Orleans County Planning Board approved several projects on Thursday, including a woodworking business in Kendall, a gravel pit and office addition in Barre, a new church in a Barre home, and an auto repair shop in Ridgeway.

Here are highlights from the Planning Board meeting:

• Gerald Solazzo has planners’ support for a church within his residence in Barre at 13404 Gray Rd.

Solazzo is a minister in the Order of Melchizedek and wants to start The Church of the Healing Christ. He would have services, perform marriages, do counseling, Bible reading, praying and healing services at the site, which is in a remote part of the county surrounded by woods.

• Keeler Construction has the Planning Board’s support for a gravel pit at 13517 on land owned by Patricia Keeler. The site was last mined about 30 years ago.

In the company’s application, Scott Scharping, chief engineer for Keeler Construction, said Keeler will not mine more than 1,000 tons per year from the site, which is an average of less than a truckload of material per week. Mining hours are proposed for between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

Keeler also is planning a 1,063 square foot addition to an existing 1,950 square foot office building.

Planners said the changes to the building and the gravel pit are logical fit within the existing Keeler Construction complex and would likely be unnoticed by most motorists passing by on West Lee Road (Route 31A).

• Brian Voelker, owner of Five Star Automotive, has the board’s support to move his business from Albion to 3922 Salt Works Rd. in Medina in a light industrial district.

Voelker, a Middleport resident, wants to use about 2,700 to 3,200 square feet in a complex of buildings owned by Barnes Metal Finishing.

• Karl Driesel wants to open a woodworking business at 1750 Kendall Rd. Driesel wants to construct a 50-by-104-fot building to manufacture custom mill working with the southeast corner of the building used as a showroom.

A detached 18-by-32 foot building would be on the northwest side of the main building and be used for sawdust collection. There will be no painting or finishing work other than sanding.

Planners recommended the Town of Kendall approve the site plan for the project.
The project has one unusual issue. A portion of the Crandall Avenue is actually part of the property and was never acquired by the Town of Kendall. County planners said the town should take over that section of the road.


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