Council Chambers

Tonawanda, New York

February 17, 2009

 

A Regular Meeting of the Common Council

 

Present:  Council President Zeisz

Present Councilmembers:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis

 

Pledge of Allegiance led by Council President Zeisz

 

Prayer led by Council President Zeisz

 

COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE MAYOR

 

A letter to David B. McCormick, 613 Niagara Street, dated February 3, 2009, reappointing him to the Tonawanda Housing Authority, term to expire February 11, 2014.

 

A letter from the Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Waste, dated January 31, 2009, regarding West Valley Nuclear Site, Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Full Cost Accounting Study.

            Ordered filed

 

COMMUNICATION FROM CITY OFFICIALS AND CORRESPONDENCE

 

The following monthly reports were received by the City Clerk:

            January monthly report of the City Clerk

            2008 Yearly Report of the Fire Department

                Referred to the Committee of the Whole

                        Ordered filed

 

A Notice of Public Hearing from the Board of Appeals regarding a variance request to be allowed to relocate existing single family dwelling to rear of lot, then erect a new addition to the front of the relocated dwelling.  The new dwelling will then be a two family dwelling.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

 

Announcement from the Civil Service Commission for a Custodian exam to be given on April 4, 2009, last date to file application will be March 17, 2009.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

 

A letter from Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz to City Treasurer Joseph Hogenkamp regarding the Erie County Community Chargeback and Board of Elections Re-Spread. 

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

                        Ordered filed  

 

COMMENTS BY THE PUBLIC ON RESOLUTIONS

 

Robert Derner, 286 Niagara Shore Drive – On No. 2, this morning I was in paying my taxes and the lady next to me wanted to pay her taxes and the girl behind the counter told her that she can’t use credit cards, you can only pay with cash or check.  Now that might come in with this resolution No. 2, maybe the City might want to consider letting people pay some of their taxes with credit cards.  We do it with all the retail businesses, credit cards have become a way of life in this country and maybe you could get some of these taxes paid rather than try and foreclose on them.  

 

Council President Zeisz – There is something to that.

 

City Treasurer Joe Hogenkamp – I’ve been meeting with my bank, we’re looking to implement that at some point in the future because we recognize exactly what Mr. Derner is talking about.  That is the way of the future and we’re definitely looking to do that.  

 

Councilmember Waterhouse – Wouldn’t we pay a fee on that though, with credit cards, doesn’t the merchant pay a fee?

 

Council President Zeisz – Yes, there is a fee.  

 

City Treasurer Joe Hogenkamp – The way it was being explained to me is there is a fee that the person using the card would have to pay to the company that’s running the credit card through our bank account, so there would be a fee that the consumer would have to absorb. 

 

MOTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS

 

23.       By Councilmember Perkins                                    seconded by Councilmember Waterhouse

                        Resolved, that the bills be allowed as audited and the City Clerk be authorized to draw warrants on the Treasurer for the various amounts.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

24.       By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Whereas, City Treasurer Joseph M. Hogenkamp has notified the Council that there are various county, city and school tax delinquencies within the City and that it would be appropriate to commence an in rem tax foreclosure proceeding to compel the payment of those delinquencies; and,

            Whereas, City Treasurer Joseph M. Hogenkamp is of the opinion that the delinquent taxes on properties located in the City through the school tax due September 1, 2007, are the most appropriate group of delinquent taxes to commence such proceedings against; now, therefore be it

Resolved, that City Treasurer Joseph M. Hogenkamp and City Attorney Ronald C. Trabucco are directed to commence an in rem tax foreclosure proceeding (In Rem # 11) pursuant to Real Property Tax Law Article 11 against all properties located in the City with delinquencies in their taxes through September 1, 2007, as soon as is reasonably practicable.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

25.       By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Whereas, a $25.00 Special Events application fee and application were received by the City Clerk for Wyatt’s Walk and

            Whereas, the application was reviewed and commented on by all appropriate Department Heads to insure the safety and well being of our residents, now, therefore be it

            Resolved, that permission is granted to the Wyatt Kyle Sutker Foundation to hold their annual Wyatt’s Walk for Spinal Muscular Atrophy along the Niagara River on May 2, 2009, and be it further

            Resolved, that the lavatories be opened in Veteran’s Park on Saturday, May 2, 2009, at a fee of $50.00 for use by the walkers.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

 

 

 

26.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that permission is granted to the Tonawandas Chamber of Commerce to hang a T-NT Expo Banner from the Grants Building to the American Legion Building from Monday, March 2, 2009 to Monday, March 23, 2009.

           

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

27.       By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that a certificate of insurance and bond be filed and a license be issued to Richards Lyons and Bernie Patcyk of Hastings & Son, Inc., and David J. Morrison of H. & M Plumbing & Mechanical Contracting, Inc., to do plumbing in the City of Tonawanda.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

28.       By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that David B. McCormick, 613 Niagara Street, be appointed Commissioner of Deed in the City of Tonawanda, term to expire December 31, 2010.

               

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

29.       By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

             Resolved, that the 2 hour parking on the west side of Main Street from the south curb line of Johnson Street to a point 334 feet south, adopted March 17, 1992, be rescinded.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

30.       By Councilmember Kossow                                               seconded by Council President Zeisz

            Resolved, that the reading of the following resolution be waived.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

31.       By Councilmember Waterhouse                  seconded by Councilmember Kossow

            Whereas, the economic downturn is having a critical impact on everyday Americans who are struggling to maintain or find jobs in an increasingly difficult environment, and

            Whereas, those same Americans are the taxpayers that provide the revenue needed to operate essential government services, and

            Whereas, Congress and President Obama are planning a taxpayer-sponsored economic recovery package that will provide billions of dollars to help economically devastated cities and states immediately provide jobs to millions of out-of-work Americans through considerable infrastructure rebuilding, green energy projects and other projects that will require manufactured components, and

            Whereas, our taxpayer dollars should be spent to maximize the creation of American jobs and restoring the economic vitality of our communities, and

            Whereas, any domestically produced products that are purchased with economic recovery plan monies will immediately help struggling American families and will help stabilize our greater economy, and

            Whereas, any economic recovery plan spending should – to every extent possible – include a commitment from the City of Tonawanda to buy materials, good, and services for projects from companies that are produced in the United States, thus employing the very workers that pay the taxes for the economic recovery plan spending in the first place, therefore, be it

            Resolved, that we the undersigned will work to maximize the creation of American jobs and restoring economic growth and opportunity by spending economic recovery plan funds on products and services that both create jobs and help keep Americans employed, be it further

            Resolved, that we commit to purchasing only products and services that are made or performed in the United States of American whenever and wherever possible with any monies provided to the City of Tonawanda by the American taxpayers, and be it further

            Resolved, that as legislators of the City of Tonawanda, we commit to publish any requests to waive these procurement priorities so as to give American workers and producers the opportunity to identify and provide the American products and services that will maximize the success of our nation’s economic recovery program. 

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

32.       By Council President Zeisz                                     seconded by Councilmember Davis

            Resolved, that in recognition and compliance with the “New York State Open Meetings Law”, this Common Council will meet in Executive Session in the Common Council Chambers for the purpose of pending exempt City business, and further be it

            Resolved, that upon conclusion of the above stated business matters, the meeting shall again be open to the general public.  The reason for the Executive Session is to discuss contract negotiations.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Robert Derner, 286 Niagara Shore Drive – A while back the City Assessor referred to the River Edge project as an upscale neighborhood.  And it is an upscale neighborhood, not because there’s a lot of rich people living there but because the place is well maintained.  It’s maintained by the Association, which has its rules, and by deed restriction.  All the lawns are well kept, all the trees are trimmed and it’s a nice place to live.  But we have one neighbor that owns property there that doesn’t take care of their property and that property is the City of Tonawanda.  Now back on March 28, 1998, the City was given a piece of property on the south side of Niagara Shore Drive, a new extension between the City Hall and the Water Department and in that agreement, the City agreed to “provide sufficient topsoil”, this is item #6, “and to grade and seed the said area and maintain said grassy area. Further, the City agrees to remove all debris presently on said premises and agrees to plant six evergreen trees in such appropriate places as to enhance the appearance of the property”.  This morning I took some pictures.  This debris has been there for months now and I don’t think that if we have an upscale neighborhood that we should have things like that piled up on property for months at a time.  I would just appreciate it if the City would remove that and take care of where they put their debris. 

 

COMMENTS FROM THE COUNCILMEMBERS AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Councilmember Perkins – I have nothing further, thank you.

 

Councilmember Waterhouse – First of all, I’d like to thank the Council for their support on resolution No. 8, to buy American.  I really appreciate that.  Second of all, 97 Rock, anyone that listens to “Norton in the Morning”, knows they are having a competition for “diners and dives” and you can go on their website and vote.  Now the City of Tonawanda has a couple locations that are in the running, so anyone that has a computer, if you want to go to the 97 Rock website, you can vote.  You have Squires, the Junkyard Bar, TC Wheelers, Swiston’s, and Fast Teddy’s.  Now the one that receives the most votes, Norton’s going to come and do his show, part of his show at this site.  So it’s a nice little thing for our community.  So anyone that has a computer, please get on and vote.  Last of all, in regards to Flight 3407, I’d just like to send my sympathy out to all the families of the people that were involved in that, especially the John Fiore family.  I happen to work with John Fiore at Washington Mills and he was a very nice guy, truly a wonderful man, he worked for the company for over 30 years and he’s going to be truly missed. 

 

Councilmember Davis – I got some correspondence within the last few days from Don Carney.  He used to be a coach for the Tonawanda American Little League and I know it’s a little early, but they plan on having a big anniversary on May 2nd through the 3rd, for former players, coaches, anybody associated with the Tonawanda American Little League, is encouraged to attend and I know he expresses his gratitude to everybody sitting up here for the help that we’ve given them, not only in the past year, but over the years, trying to make that a very successful business.  I’d like to thank our City Engineer. I brought a couple of things to his attention, more importantly the corner of Wadsworth and Taylor where National Fuel had dug into the intersection a few weeks back and it was a pretty big pit from where they dug in and he got National Fuel right on it.  And lastly, just to piggyback on Mr. Waterhouse and Flight 3407.  It’s something to be part of, something good, but it’s also something to be a part of, something that this area has never seen before.  Unfortunately, I was working that night at the weather station, but I’d just like to say, my thoughts and prayers go out to the families, the friends, first responders, because it takes a toll on them to the recovery efforts, but it kind of makes you take a step back and put things in perspective whenever things are bad, things could get a lot worse, so I would just ask that you put yourself into those family’s shoes and put them in your thoughts and prayers.

 

Councilmember Kossow – I also want to offer my thoughts and prayers to all the victims and families affected.  As Councilman Davis mentioned, first responders, I’m sure they saw a lot that they will probably never forget.  It’s going to take a while.  It just sends a chill up your spine because you think of how fragile life is. All these people had destinations, coming to see friends and family, or just coming back from a business trip, you just never know.  How quickly those 50 lives are gone.  You see plane crashes across the country over the years, you sympathize with the situation and when it touches your community, the City of Buffalo, you just go home and squeeze your kids and you’re very thankful and appreciate all the time you have to share with them.  So if you haven’t done so, if there’s somebody you haven’t talked to for a while, take the time to give them a call and let them know how you feel about them because it’s such a tragedy it really puts things in perspective.

 

Mayor Pilozzi – First of all, Mr. Derner came to a meeting here a couple months ago and asked about reassessment and I want to read this.  This is a statement I received from our Assessor and hopefully it answers your question Mr. Derner.  “New York State Law requires all properties in a municipality to be assessed at a uniform percentage of market value each year.  This means all taxable properties in the City be assessed at market value or all at the same uniform percentage of market value each year.  The City of Tonawanda has entered into a Memo of Understanding with the New York State Office of Real Property to maintain assessments at 100% of value for a six-year plan.  In accordance, the State will provide state aid to the City at approximately $5 per parcel for maintaining the 100% value.  The annual plan requires the Assessor to physically inspect and reappraise each parcel at least once during the six-year period.  It also requires we annually conduct a systemic analysis of all assessed properties and revise assessments as necessary.  This means we will be looking at neighborhood sales annually and adjusting properties as necessary.  Physical changes caused by new construction are addressed on an annual basis”.  So hopefully that answers your question.  Had a conference call today, along with Joe Hogenkamp and Sam Iraci, and that had to do with the stimulus money that’s going to be filtered down to New York State.  That conference call came out of Albany and just to let everybody know, the number I received on the phone today was $24.6 billion for New York State.  The major categories that we will be using that money for, at the State level anyways, is $14 billion, over a two year period, for State fiscal relief, $2 billion for education, $3.9 billion for infrastructure, $4.4 billion for social programs, $107 million for public safety.  In addition, there was highway and bridge $1.12 billion, mass transit $1.2 billion, wastewater $435 million, low-income weatherization $400 million, and an energy program for $150 million.  That in a nutshell is what we were told today via a conference call from New York State officials.  How that’s going to be spread and how that’s going to impact the City of Tonawanda is anybody’s guess but we will be applying for whatever we need to apply for in our community and see where the cards fall.  Lastly, I like the others up front here, would like to express my condolences to the families of Continental Flight 3407.  When that first happened, obviously it’s a surreal incident.  It’s amazing to me that that plane hit just that one house, if you look at the overhead shot that we saw recently.  The other thing that kind of touched home is, did I know somebody.  Just as Councilmember Waterhouse, and maybe others here.  For a few hours the next day I thought I was “scot-free”.  As the day went on, I found out that a girl by the name of Mary Abraham, a cousin of Fred Priano, a former Councilmember and a lot of you folks I think know him from the Knights of Columbus, Mary Abraham was his cousin and I also know the father of Capt. Joseph Zuffoletto who unfortunately was the last person on board that plane.  He was the pilot that needed a ride home.  I don’t think anybody can get a true sense of the feeling that must be going through these people’s minds.  I did go to the ceremony they had yesterday at a church in Clarence and it was just a beautiful exercise and they paid tribute to the first responders but the thing that really got me was, we in Buffalo are a tight knit group, Western New Yorker’s are tough people and they’re tight knit.  There were ministers, the Bishop of Buffalo, somebody representing the Hindu religion, the Jewish religion, and it was just a beautiful, beautiful ceremony and that kind of sparked in my mind how important it is that we all pull together and like was already mentioned, say some prayers and keep those folks in your thoughts and prayers.  Tough thing to deal with and I hope it never happens in our City, but again, keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

 

Council President Zeisz – Just a couple thoughts I have.  Mr. Derner you had raised an issue with the River Edge property, or our property adjoining that property and I’m sure the Mayor will look into that, but also, on a few occasions I’ve told the City Attorney Trabucco that I’d like a meeting set up with the organization because I’d like to discuss issues relative to the contract that was signed 25 years ago.  So that can obviously be part of that discussion if it’s not rectified.  The other thing is to also offer my condolences to those families of the flight.  I really don’t have any more to say, I think it’s just an extremely tragic event.  I made it until today, they all said, you’ll know someone on the plane or you’ll know someone that knew someone and I made it until the Council meeting and then Ron had to tell me that Fred Priano’s cousin was on the plane, so I guess it is true.   

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

33.       By Councilmember Waterhouse                  seconded by Councilmember Kossow

            Resolved, that this Common Council adjourn until March 3, 2009.  

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

 

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