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NT Common Council: Davignon retires; Belmont Housing Resources For WNY to help with foreclosure prevention outreach

Fri, Jan 22nd 2021 11:35 am

By Michael DePietro

At Tuesday’s North Tonawanda Common Council meeting, city officials bid a congratulatory farewell to Superintendent of Water, Wastewater & Water Distribution Bill Davignon, who is set to retire this week. Davignon had worked at the plant for over 30 years and was appointed the supervisor role in 2016 by the Mayor Arthur G. Pappas and the Common Council.

Davignon has received praise by city officials and residents alike for his work at the department, specifically in recent years for his role in spearheading a number of capital improvement projects. Chiefly, he has been instrumental in overseeing the city’s wastewater treatment plant upgrades project and helped secure a $1.8 million Water Infrastructure Improvement Act grant for the installation of a new generator. Other plant improvements included the installation of the west stormwater mechanical bar screen, a raw sewage sludge pump and a new ferric chloride chemical system.

Pappas was resolute in his appreciation for the work Davignon accomplished.

“(Bill) and I have had private conversations and he knows my sentiments, but I think the public should know that, first of all, I’m very happy that I had the privilege of appointing him and I think he did a very, very excellent job,” Pappas said. “And yes, at times, he admits too, he asked for a lot of money, and at times we had to scratch our heads and wonder where to go with it. But he had the goal of leaving that place better then when he started. And he had a goal of doing away with just (doing) the patchwork … and he wanted to bring it into the new century. And he has done that, and it’s now they’re prepared to move on into the future in a much better way.”

The council went on to approve Pappas’ provisional appointment of Jason W. Koepsel as wastewater superintendent, effective Jan. 22, pending results of the required civil service exam scheduled for this year (date pending). His starting pay will be $87,849.

NT to Work with Belmont Housing Resources For WNY

The council authorized the mayor to enter into contract with Belmont Housing Resources for WNY for a foreclosure prevention outreach plan.

In a letter including in the meeting agenda, North Tonawanda City Development Director Michael Zimmerman explained, “The plan is a deliverable item related to the Local Initiative Support Coalition (ISC) Zombie Property Prevention grant awarded to the city in 2019.”

He went on to explain the plan succinctly: “A housing agency, in this case, Belmont, has access to data that we don’t have access to and that’s homeowners who are in default and in pre-foreclosure; they haven’t been foreclosed on yet, but they’re behind on mortgages.

“Utilizing them, we’re able to access that data so we can do outreach to those homeowners in NT, to let them know about the council and resources and legal resources that are out there to help them, hopefully, prevent foreclosure, stay in their homes and, ultimately, have less foreclosed and vacant homes in the city.”

Belmont is a nonprofit housing agency that provides services including housing counseling, financial education, property management, and housing program administration.

Zimmerman explained Belmont’s suggested fee of $8,000 would be covered by the ISC grant.

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