by Susan Mikula Campbell
The Town of Niagara Town Board met Monday for a reorganization meeting and to review details of the community host agreement for the upcoming expansion of Fashion Outlets of Niagara.
There was debate on the exact wording of the community host agreement offered by Macerich Partnership LP, new owners of the Fashion Outlets of Niagara. The mall already provides $200,000 to the town yearly for the existing portion of the mall and is offering another $100,000 community host agreement for the new addition.
Mark Gabriele, counsel to the Town of Niagara Industrial Development Agency, told the board that an agreement on the community host agreement was needed so it can move forward as part of the IDA's already finalized payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with Macerich.
Supervisor Steve Richards said he would like to see the new $100,000 community host agreement, which is a voluntary payment by the developer, be specifically earmarked for the reconstruction of the Belden Center area's sewer and drainage system. That would mean the town wouldn't have to raise sewer taxes.
"Everyone on this board has made a commitment to that project (Belden Center)," said Deputy Supervisor Danny Sklarski. "This is a good thing for everyone, including the businesses."
Councilman Charles Teixeira was hesitant to specify one project over another. There was also concern whether the payments would continue and where the money would go if the Belden Center project was paid off before the 15-year agreement expired.
Councilman Marc Carpenter suggested instead of specifying Belden Center, the board should just say capital projects.
"This is kind of semantics to me. We're still going to save the taxpayers money no matter how we word it," Carpenter said.
In the end, using the words "capital projects" was approved.
Board members agreed that Belden Center improvements were absolutely necessary.
Town Attorney Michael Risman noted that when the town does approve the Belden Center improvements, if a bond is issued on the project, the underwriters will want to make sure money is reserved for that project.
Richards pointed out that this isn't the first community host agreement he has negotiated with owners of major projects in the town on behalf of town residents. Other agreements have brought benefits including improvements at the town park on Lockport Road and free garbage collection.
"You can see I love this town; I always put the people first," he said.
In the reorganization portion of the meeting:
•The Niagara-Wheatfield Tribune was again designated as one of two official newspapers for the town.
•Sklarski was appointed deputy supervisor and given the power to vote in place of Richards at Niagara County sewer district meetings.
•Teixeira was appointed as police commissioner.
•Jason Cafarella was named as a new town prosecutor.
•Salaries for elected officials were set at $35,960 for supervisor, $12,038 each for four councilmen, $44,135 for town clerk, $51,174 for highway superintendent and $24,647 each for two town justices.
In other matters:
•The Town Board and attorney Risman will be going into executive session at 6:30 p.m. today, Jan. 16, prior to the scheduled work session to discuss union contract negotiations. The next regular meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21.