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Lewiston: Moody's finds town in 'healthy financial position'

Sat, Feb 15th 2020 07:00 am

2019 rating maintained in annual report

Collesano announces retirement from Senior Center

By Terry Duffy

Editor-in-Chief

Financial matters and solar were among the discussion items of interest at Monday’s Lewiston Town Board work session.

Leading off, Town Finance/Budget Director Jacqueline A. Agnello reported Lewiston has maintained its 2019 rating according to data in Moody’s annual report published on Jan. 27. No further outlook was provided.

“Lewiston has a solid credit position,” Agnello said of the town’s A1 rating. She told Supervisor Steve Broderick and board members that notable credit factors for the town include a healthy financial position, a moderate debt burden, and an average pension liability.

“The town’s credit position also reflects a strong wealth and income profile and a moderately sized tax base,” Agnello said.

The complete report is available at www.Moodys.com.

In her investment report, Agnello revealed two town investments had matured on Jan. 20, earning the town $20,035.56 in interest. She stated these were, in turn, reinvested for another six months and are due to mature on July 30. Agnello said three other town investments are approaching maturity, with two due on April 30 and another on July 30.

On another financial matter, the Town Board approved the hire of Charles Easttey as a part-time junior accountant, at a rate of $19.50 per hour, effective Feb. 24.

Wrapping up on financial matters, Agnello received approval on the following budget revisions:

  • A request to move $100 from seniors contractual to the seniors gasoline account to cover gasoline expenses through the fiscal year.
  • A request to move $50 from supervisors contractual to professional report fees to cover the submission of financial information to EMMA.
  • A request to move $5,000 from the Lewiston Police Department personnel account to police contractual to cover expenses through the fiscal year.
  • A request to move $5,000 from the general repairs contractual account and $5,000 from the highway gasoline account to the snow removal contractual account to cover the purchase of salt.

In other news from the session:

•Deputy Town Supervisor William Conrad updated the board on a recent seminar he attended on solar batteries. Conrad said he found more technical design and cost issues than anticipated. One concern involved what he called the battery’s “thermal runway.”

“That is an issue that has not been resolved,” Conrad said.

He told board members that, in the event of fire, there exists a potential problem he called “off-gasing.” Thus far, there has been no research as to how to handle it properly.

Conrad said he had further questions on disposal and the recycling of solar panels, as well, and would continue to research these.

The town currently has a moratorium on any new commercial energy solar applications.

•The Town Board accepted the retirement of Jeanette Collesano, director of the Town of Lewiston Senior Center. Members expressed regret Collesano was leaving, and appreciation for her 25 years of service.

Councilman Bill Geiben announced the town would hold a retirement luncheon in her honor at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, at the Lewiston Senior Center.

Commenting on Collesano’s service to the town, Councilman Alfonso Marra Bax remarked, “A lot of the positive attributes at the Senior Center have to do with Jeanette Collesano and the dedication she has put into it. Our senior citizens who have gone through the Senior Center can’t leave without knowing or feeling the love that Collesano has put into it. I want to thank you personally, and on behalf of the town, for all you have done.”

Collesano’s retirement is effective Feb. 20.

Attorney for the Town Thomas Seaman advised the Town Board it will need to approve resolutions on Collesano’s replacement per Niagara County Civil Service guidelines.

“There has been communication with Niagara County Civil Service that the position that will be filled needs to have the title changed,” Seaman said.

He said a motion is required to establish a new position, and a motion to abolish the current position, effective at the time of Collesano’s retirement.

Soon afterward, Geiben, seconded by John Jacoby, presented a motion to abolish the position of aging services aide, effective Feb. 20. His motion was approved 5-0.

The board moved to establish the position of senior citizens coordinator, also effective Feb. 20, and will post that position in-house.

On a related matter, the Town Board approved a salary rate of $13.80 per hour for Pat Zahno, who was earlier appointed as a part-time senior services aide.

•The Town Board said it would take no action on any bids related to water system improvements, as they came in higher than expected. The board also rejected all bids related to the electrical-rebid for the parks and storage building, as they also came in higher than expected.

•The board announced a public hearing to consider the proposed adoption of a local law on amending Chapter 270, sewers, to establish a sewer remediation dedicated fund. The hearing will begin at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24.

•The board granted approval for the USDA to continue its trap and treatment program for the European Cherry Fruit for this coming warm weather season.

•Wrapping up, resident Paulette Glasgow inquired if a plan for the Riverfront Town Park has been developed for presentation to the public.

Broderick responded that one has not yet been prepared, and that the Town Board would be meeting with the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19.

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