By Terry Duffy
Financial issues occupied portions of Thursday's Lewiston Town Board work session, as budget season begins.
The Town Board announced work session meetings with town department heads and representatives of Lewiston's nonprofits would commence on Monday, Oct. 17, starting at noon at Town Hall. Town Board members, joined by Town Finance Office Marti Blazick, are expected to discuss the impacts of Lewiston's earlier-released tentative $16.250 million 2017 budget and what recourses, if any, are available for the various town interests.
Deputy Clerk Carol Schroeder reported the interviews are expected to run in varying time increments, according to the following tentative schedule:
•Noon to 12:10 p.m. - Lewiston Public Library; 12:10-12:20 p.m. - Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce; 12:20-12:30 p.m. - Lewiston Council on the Arts; 12:30-12:40 p.m. - HART Interfaith; 12:40-12:50 p.m. - Historical Association of Lewiston; 12:50-1 p.m. - Niagara County Community Action Program; 1-1:15 p.m. - town assessor's office; 1:15-1:45 p.m. - Lewiston Police Department; 1:45-2:15 p.m. - Lewiston courts/town prosecutor; 2:15-2:45 p.m. - Lewiston Sewer Department/Jeff Ritter; 2:45-3:15 p.m. Lewiston Water Department/Mike Townsend; 3:15-3:30 p.m. - Lewiston Highway Department/traffic control; 3:30-3:45 p.m. - Lewiston Building Department; 3:45-4 p.m. - Lewiston commissions - Environmental, Zoning and Planning; 4-4:30 p.m. - Lewiston Parks and Recreation/Lewiston Family Ice Rink; 4:40-4:45 p.m. - Lewiston Fire Prevention; and 4:45-5 p.m. - Blazick.
Last week, Blazick reported the proposed budget plan calls for 10 percent cuts to a number of Lewiston's nonprofits, as well as town departments.
The sessions to be held in the Town Board meeting room are open to the public.
In other financial news of interest, the Town Board held a public hearing, which saw no comments, on improvements to facilities of the Lewiston Water Improvement Area. Discussed were various elements of the town's estimated $10.2 million plan to replace water lines in northern areas of Lewiston and above the hill. The plan would see the installation of 43,000 linear feet of water lines on the following roads: Lower River Road, Morgan Drive, Mayflower Road, Sweet Home Road, Hermitage Road, Creek Road, Hoover Road, Lewiston Road, Military Road, Homestead Place, Pletcher Road and Country Club Trail.
Town Water Department spokesman Mike Townsend called the project, which involves the replacement of cast iron piping with primarily PVC piping, "long overdue."
"These are the ones that are cast iron; they are most important ones at this particular time," he said.
Town Engineer Bob Lannon said the water line replacements have been an ongoing project in the town, dating to 2003.
"Back in 2003, there was 6 miles or so of water lines, then in 2007-08, about 2 miles of new lines were installed on Mountain View Drive. There has been a fair (amount) of lines that the town put in the last eight to 10-15 years," Lannon said.
Regarding the $10.2 million plan discussed that evening, he called it "a good construction cost estimate for the project," and told the board the improvements would alleviate long-standing low-pressure problems affecting numerous residences, as well as inflows and fire emergency issues. PVC waterlines would be placed at a 5-foot depth-flow below grade to prevent any instances of potential freezing of lines in the winter, and areas extending below streets and intersections would be traditional cast iron piping.
As to installation, Lannon said residents would not face any disruptions or inconveniences of water service. "We'll put the service in once the line is connected. It's kind of (a) disconnect (of) the existing and reconnect the new," he said.
"It's pretty quick," Lannon added. "Oftentimes, the resident will leave their home in the morning and, when they come, they'll have a completely new water service."
As to cost, Blazick said she expected the LWIA improvements would be bonded, with residents of the respective water districts in the town bearing the financial burden for replacements.
Town Attorney Brian Seaman discussed options the town could consider with respect to funding. He told the board, "There's two ways to do it. One is a town-wide special district and the other is ... like an overlay, of the Lewiston Water Improvement Area. They have advantages and disadvantages; in either scenario we're likely making an application to the comptroller's office for approval, because of the amount of money that is going to be bonded, and how that stacks up against the assessed value of the properties affected."
"There's more to be done here," Seaman said. He told the board he would be reviewing the two funding options further.
The matter was left with the Town Board approving plans for the LWIA project and authorizing Seaman to begin the process of pursuing funding arrangements.
•Representatives of the Niagara Military Affairs Council briefed Town Supervisor Steve Broderick and board members on the latest goings on at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. NIMAC works with Congress and the federal government in spearheading the interests of the Falls Air Reserve Station, a facility with a 3,000-plus-member workforce and an annual economic impact of $168 million.
NIMAC is among the interests that face a 10 percent cut in funding in the town's 2017 budget.
Discussed were updates to both 914th and 107th air divisions at the Falls base. NIMAC members offered praise for the 107th's transition, which recently went from a refueling air-wing to an advanced-attack MQ9 reaper unit.
"They're not actually drones, but qualified pilots," said the NIMAC official of the 107th's new duties. He said plans call for Niagara Falls-stationed pilots to have the ability to remotely take over aircraft "anywhere in the world."
"There's a lot going on at the base," the NIMAC official added. He closed by telling board members that base officials are also working on the return of an airshow planned the summer of 2018. "Stay tuned," he said.