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Grand Island Town Board looks into gas prices

Sat, Jun 6th 2020 07:00 am

By Michael J. Billoni

A motion was passed in Monday’s Grand Island Town Board workshop for a letter to be sent from the board to gas station operators on the Island expressing feedback members have received from residents regarding the disparity in fuel costs in comparison to stations over the bridge in Tonawanda.

Jennifer Baney, who brought this to the board’s attention at a workshop meeting last month, worked with the town attorney on crafting the sensitive letter to ensure it thanked the gas stations for their continued service as Island businesses while not demanding or requesting a price change.

“We have a responsibility as leaders to pass along to businesses what we are hearing from residents. That information may help them serve their customers better,” Baney said before the board voted 4-1 in favor of sending the letter.

Board member Pete Marston, an Island business owner who said the gasoline for all of his vehicles is purchased from stations here, voted in opposition of sending the letter.

“I am very, very concerned with this, because I strongly feel government should not interfere with private business,” he said. “This is going to a private business and saying we are not happy with their pricing and we want it adjusted. This is a huge red flag for government control, and I wouldn’t do it for someone over their fish fry pricing or a bottle of wine.”

Board member Mike Madigan said, “It does not hurt to ask, and I have a hard time understanding this disparity myself.”

Supervisor John C. Whitney, P.E., corrected Madigan by stating, “In the letter, we do not ask for a price change. We are just relaying the concerns of the public.”

The letter, in part, reads, “We often receive feedback from residents on a variety of topics and we pass along that feedback when necessary. In that regard, we are often questioned by Grand Island residents about the disparity in fuel purchased on the Island as compared to neighboring Tonawanda.”

The letter points out that, on a recent weekend, the difference in price for a gallon of gasoline was 16 cents higher on the Island. “This significant price disparity between Grand Island and those close by and located in the same county is frustrating and of concern to many Grand Island residents.”

The letter closed by thanking the station owners for their service to the community and that the board values their contributions as a local business.

•Also during the Town Board meeting:

A motion was approved to appoint Gillman Cody Clarke to the position of senior water plant operator (provisional), a move necessitated by the recent retirement of James Dlugokinski.

Town Engineer Robert Westfall, P.E., also proposed appointing Dlugokinski as a part-time senior water plant operator, because of a staff shortage. The motion was approved with many positive comments about Dlugokinski.

A motion was approved to hire Chris Cullen as a full-time code enforcement officer in the Building Department.

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