Town Board approves replacement of water meters
By Terry Duffy
Slowly but surely, new Lewiston Supervisor Steve Broderick is starting to make his mark on town affairs.
Following up on a desire revealed last month to search for a new town auditor, Broderick announced his selection Monday of Drescher & Malecki LLP of Buffalo. The firm represents the interests of 18 municipalities in Western New York, including Niagara County and the Town of Newfane. Others include Chautauqua County, and the towns of Colden, Orchard Park, Evans and West Seneca in Erie County.
The firm replaces Brown & Co. LLP CPAs of Niagara Falls, which held long-term auditing and financial monitoring responsibilities for the town.
"We put out some new proposals for town auditor. I would like ... to select as our next town auditor Drescher & Malecki," Broderick said as he introduced Thomas Malecki, the firm's partner in charge, along with two Malecki associates: Matt Montalbo, engagement partner, and Luke Malecki, resource partner.
"They come highly recommended," Broderick said.
"When I hear the issues going on tonight, you will need the resource partner," Malecki said.
He then proceeded to offer his input on a couple of town needs discussed that night. One involved Lewiston's ongoing dilemma of aging water meters - an issue that affects nearly all of the town's nearly 7,000 households. Another issue involved the needed replacement of two muck land pumps handling drainage in farming areas above the hill.
Telling the board his firm handles both auditing as well as accounting needs for its clients, Malecki said, "We're not just auditing the numbers, we're trying to feel the pain of just what's going on" (with the town financial needs).
"Probably the most difficult task this board has is with the budget," he continued. "When we look at your budget, it was a tough year. When we look at this (coming budget), we have to make sure we're charging the right fees for the services provided."
Noting the challenges facing municipalities in operating within the state cap and inflation adjustments, Malecki said, "What we try to help boards is to try the find the right value - what are we giving to our citizens."
"We work on both sides of the table. We know what you're up against, and we'll help to find solutions," he added.
As noted, the Town Board was searching for two solutions that evening, with the aforementioned water meters and muck land pumps concerns.
On the meters, Mike Townsend from the Water Department informed the board 3,400 residential meters are currently in need of replacement.
"We're due (to replace) 3,400 meters," he said. "(At this time), I would do a third."
Townsend said both hand-held devices used to read the meters via a laptop as well as the units themselves oftentimes are in need of replacement. He noted the meters have a 10-year lifespan, and added many still in use are 13 years old or older.
"We are only doing the ones that are failing," he said.
Townsend said replacing 1,000 meters would cost the town in excess of $100,000.
"These replacements are definitely a concern," Broderick said.
Town Attorney Brian Seaman advised the board that, under emergency circumstances, it could circumvent state bidding processes. Soon after, the board approved the purchase of one box of 24 meters at a cost of $140 to $150 per meter.
On the muck land pumps, the board heard the engineering department was still looking into additional funding for replacements. Their total cost had reportedly increased from an estimated $40,000 to $100,000-$200,000. It was reported earlier that NYPA hydro money could cover up to $40,000 toward the total cost.
• The Town Board announced it would hold a joint town-village board session at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22. It was also announced a public hearing to extend a moratorium on the use of biosolids in the town would be held at 6 p.m. that same evening.
•The board approved the hiring of George Danielwicz for a town building maintenance position at a salary of $16.75 per hour.
•The board approved a negative declaration and a site plan for improvements eyed for the Hickory Stick Golf Club on Creek Road. Included in the plan are new men's and women's locker rooms and ancillary facilities.