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Wheatfield borrows to pay bills

by jmaloni

Bergholz siren still an issue

Thu, Sep 30th 2010 10:20 am
by Susan Mikula Campbell

With its tentative 2011 budget due to be turned over to the town clerk this week, Wheatfield is still working on paying its bills for 2010.

The Town Board on Monday approved borrowing $630,000 through a revenue anticipation note.

According to Supervisor Bob Cliffe, the money is needed to help make interest payments that are due, meet payroll and pay bills until mid-January when the town's tax money starts coming in.

Budget Director Ed Mongold confirmed that the town does have $1.1 million in First Niagara Bank, but that money is designated for capital expenses and, by law, cannot be used for operating expenses. The use of that money for operating expenses under the previous administration is where the town has gotten into trouble on state audits.

As one of his first actions as supervisor, Cliffe instituted better controls on town spending, requiring departments to receive his approval for any spending between $500 and $3,000 and his approval as well as the approval of the board member who is the department's liaison for any spending of more than $3,000.

At the recommendation of Councilman Larry Helwig on Monday, the board reduced the $3,000 limit to $1,000.

Councilman Gil Doucet also asked for a report on and possible limits on how credit cards are used in the town.

Meanwhile, a public hearing on the final budget, after it is reviewed and adjusted by the Town Board, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 3. Final adoption by the board is expected on Nov. 15.

Bergholz residents, still annoyed by the volunteer fire company's siren, returned to the Wheatfield Town Board on Monday to ask again that something be done about the noise.

This time, they were countered by members of the fire company, who spoke passionately about their work and seemed upset by the criticism.

Resident Lois Wiseman said she had done Internet research and found that noise above 80 decibels could not only harm hearing, but also affect health in other ways, such as raising blood pressure. She noted that she appreciates the work the volunteer firefighters do, but asked that the siren be evaluated and adjusted if necessary to ensure the community is not harmed by the noise.

Resident Earl Volker, a former firefighter, said the high level of the siren affects quality of life for "families, shift workers, babies sleeping and it affects grumpy old men."

Residents said when Cliffe and town Recreation Director Ed Sturgeon came with a sound meter to test the noise level recently, the chief seemed uncooperative and reluctant to run the siren full cycle. They claimed that the longer the whistle blows, the higher the sound seems to get, and that when the siren sounds all conversation has to stop.

Sturgeon said the meter showed a 106-decibel reading across the street from the firehall, 84 decibels at one block away and 82 decibels at two blocks away.

Third Asst. Chief Dennis Stoelting said the current siren has been in service since 2005 and does not have a volume control.

"We're trying," longtime fire company member Gail Carrier said, noting that the siren no longer is sounded from 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. and that the 6 p.m. time whistle has been eliminated.

She said the siren provides a backup should pagers used by the volunteers fail or are not heard. Bergholz volunteers have responded to about 750 calls this year.

"Yes, it does disturb you ... inconvenience you a little bit," she said of the siren, "but someone on the other end needs that assistance."

In other matters:

  • The board approved increasing the fee for property owners who fail to pay water/sewer bills from $25 to $50 when that bill is turned over to the county to be added to the delinquent property owner's tax bill. Water/Sewer Supervisor Rich Donner said 650 reminder letters were sent to residents and businesses with delinquent bills this year, and on the average, only about 40 or 50 percent pay the bill.
  • No action was taken after a second couldn't be obtained on a motion to settle a claim from David Anderson for $1,300. Anderson originally asked for $6,000 to replace trees taken down during town work on a drainage easement on Deborah Lane behind the Summit Mall. According to Cliffe, Anderson does not want the trees replaced, but just wants the money for them.
  • Resident Thomas Carlson reported that traffic on Cayuga Drive Extension is becoming a problem where it empties into Niagara Falls Boulevard. He said on a recent afternoon, traffic was lined up past the Goodman's Farm Market parking lot, and it took him three traffic light cycles to get back into Bergholz. He also asked that something be done about junked cars on Niagara Road, which are an eyesore for people entering Bergholz.
  • Highway Superintendent Art Kroening reminded residents that mulch is available at the Town Highway Garage on Ward Road at a cost for four yards of $25 delivered or $10 picked up.
  • The town's annual Halloween party will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, at the Wheatfield Community Center. Trick-or-treat hours have been set for 4 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 31.
  • The Town Board will next meet at 7 p.m. Oct. 4. There will be a public hearing at 7 p.m. on a new local law regarding licensing of dogs. The state recently turned over full responsibility for dog licensing to local municipalities.

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