by Terry Duffy
"Things are looking pretty bright for Lewiston."
So commented Town Supervisor Dennis Brochey in a marked change from his prior forecasts, as he updated the Lewiston Town Board Monday on the status of departing Finance Officer Paul Kloosterman. Brochey reported that, due to Kloosterman's belt-tightening efforts over the past year, Lewiston now appears to be heading in the right direction on its spending.
"It's been a great experience working for the town," Kloosterman replied to Brochey's compliment.
Brochey said his interview process on selecting a replacement for Kloosterman has been going very well and he expected to have a candidate named for the post soon. Brochey also said that with Lewiston moving better on its financials, he would now be able to look into spending more on the town's various capital improvement needs in the future. He didn't elaborate.
And no updates were provided on his continuing discussions with the New York Power Authority over Lewiston's sought-for alternative uses of NYPA hydropower monies - a key issue that's been raised over past months by Brochey in his attempt to bring Lewiston's finances more on track.
Other significant news from Monday's session saw the town taking action to extend its moratorium against Quasar Energy Group of Ohio for an additional six months. Quasar, which has a biosolids processing facility on Liberty Drive in the Town of Wheatfield, had sought and was approved by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to begin injections of its "equate" byproduct on Niagara County-area farmlands, including a number in Lewiston.
Lewiston, which came out on record staunchly opposing Quasar's operations, initiated a moratorium last summer, arguing Quasar, and the DEC's plans for the "equate" injections were in violation of town codes and that neither had apprised the town nor sought its permission. It extended the moratorium to allow for town attorneys to amend a local law intended to prohibit the practice permanently.
"We're going to act as fast as possible on this," said Councilman Ron Winkley, who said the town does have measures to prohibit the equate injections.
Town attorneys Mark Davis and Brian Seaman will be working over coming days on developing language for amending the local law, which will be discussed further at board sessions next month. Meanwhile, Brochey said the town would continue its discussions with officials in the towns of Wheatfield and Pendleton who are pursing similar measures against Quasar.
In still more news:
•The board tabled any action on plans to hold a referendum for the purpose of consolidating the receiver of taxes position with the town clerk's office, as minor issues still needed to be worked out. Davis and Town Clerk Donna Garfinkel told the board the referendum structure will be a local vote similar to that done when the recreation center issue was put up to town residents. Both said that an actual date and other preparations would need to be addressed before a vote is announced.
•The board announced that the town's sewer credit policy to residents on pool repairs would now be limited to one liner replacement or one pool resurfacing but nothing more. The credits policy covering the waiving of sewer charges had reportedly become an issue of contention with Jeff Ritter of the town's Water Pollution Control Center, who argued that Lewiston residents were submitting requests covering all types of repairs and taking advantage of the waivers. He said the town's new policy would now be more similar to that practiced by the three other WPCC municipal users.
•Resident Paulette Glasgow addressed the board during community comments and chastised the Town Board on its retaining of Davis and Seaman as town attorneys due to the fact that neither are town residents. "You continue to act in violation of state law on this," said Glasgow, adding that Brochey had not been in favor of the practice but the board still opted to retain the two as town attorneys. "You need to take action to amend this," she told the board.
Later in the session, Councilman Winkley did just that as he presented a motion for the board to abolish the position of town attorney. He then presented a motion for Brochey to enter into new contracts to cover both the town's engineer services, currently being handled by Robert Lannon of CRA Associates, and for the town attorney services, to be handled by Davis and Seaman. That measure was approved by the board, which then went into executive session to discuss the matter further.