By Terry Duffy
With town operations slowly moving into 2019, January’s Lewiston Town Board regular meeting Monday was lower-key, but newsworthy, nonetheless, with a number of procedural matters addressed.
Notable on the list, and perhaps occupying the most discussion, was a lengthy list of budget adjustments totaling $107,111 that was presented for board approval by town Finance/Budget Director Jacqueline Agnello. She told the board the adjustments were to balance various town accounts.
“Tonight, I have budget revisions from 2018 and as well as 2019; you have them all in front of you,” Agnello said.
Totaling $42,860 for the year 2018, the adjustments included: professional report fees – $678 to cover a deficit from additional fees associated with the BAN from the town water project; $1,345 to the recreation ice rink contractual budget to cover a deficit in rink operations; $1,000 to the Senior Center contractual budget to cover a deficit in unused personnel; a $7,000 increase to the Lewiston Police Department to cover revenue from a grant used to purchase rifles, ballistic vests and helmets; $3,000 to LPD contractual from its equipment budget to cover a deficit in contractual expenses for 2018; $1,190 from the Highway Department unemployment insurance budget to the highway general insurance budget; $18,565 in SS1 sewer for treatment/disposal contractual expenses; $9,682 in SS1 sewer for its treatment/disposal gas/electric budget; and $400 to the SS-3 sewer gas/electric budget.
“The next set of revisions ... for 2019, all but one are to cover the additional increases in our workers’ compensation bill for 2019,” Agnello said.
Those revisions included: $38,414 for the Lewiston Police workers’ comp budget, to cover a bill the town received after adopting its 2019 budget; and $8,562 for the Highway Department workers’ comp budget.
On a question from Councilman Rob Morreale on whether the town was being pro-rated on this matter, Agnello replied, “We are rated on our workers’ compensation for our accidents, claims that are put in. It’s a three-year average that we receive. We did implement an increase, but the bill overall increased 65 percent, which we did not account for.
“Workers’ compensation does like a cyclical thing, up and down, and right now we’re on an up. Probably next year, as well. We’ve received some pretty big claims.”
Agnello told the board she and her staff are reaching out to the Association of Towns and Niagara County workers’ comp officials to see what could be done to reduce the town’s rate in the future
Other 2019 revisions were in the fire protection fund (SFO), to move $9,565 to its workers’ compensation fund from its fund balance; SS1 sewer, $609 to its workers’ compensation budget, using the leachate revenue budget (increasing revenue and expense budgets); Water Department, $6,284 to its workers’ compensation budget from its equipment budget; and $817 to the taxes municipal property budget to cover an increase in property taxes on town municipal properties.
Agnello said the town received this bill following completion of its 2019 budget. She added she was going to find out earlier where the town stands, so this item could be better factored into next year’s budget.
“That was quite an adjustment,” commented Town Councilman Bill Geiben.
“It absolutely was,” Agnello said.
In other news from the session,
•The Town Board approved a motion to retain the services of attorney Ed Pearlman at a rate of $225 per hour to address a litigation matter with Modern Disposal Services. The board didn’t elaborate on this matter.
•The Town Board announced it would hold a public hearing to consider a local law to address the limitations of appointed town officials to serve on other boards and commissions within the town, namely its Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals boards. The matter came to light with the situation of current Historian Marjorie Maggard also serving on the town’s ZBA.
The public hearing will take place 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25, prior to the regular Town Board meeting.
•The board approved the teamsters collective bargaining agreement for the Lewiston Police Department and authorized Supervisor Steve Broderick to sign it.
•LPD Chief Frank Previte announced police will hold two active shooter drill exercises in coming months. The first will be Friday, Feb. 15, at the Lewiston-Porter School District, with the second one Friday, March 15, at Niagara-Wheatfield.
Previte said the Lew-Port drill is expected to involve various departments from Mount St. Mary’s Hospital participating.
A number of area law enforcement agencies are expected at both sessions.