Board receives preliminary budget, sets public hearing
By Terry Duffy
Monday’s Lewiston Town Board session was relatively brief, but it did include a number of financial matters of note.
•Town Finance/Budget Officer Jacqueline Agnello submitted Lewiston’s 2022 preliminary budget to Supervisor Steve Broderick and board members. She also announced plans to hold a public hearing to review the matter further.
By the numbers, the revised $18,144,315 total plan (appropriations and special districts) reflected a modest increase of $3,819 in overall spending. But it also shows a decline in the expected tax hit to town property owners of $70,379. In her documentation, Agnello included two pages in her report outlining budget revisions that showed more than 30 adjustments. Included were such items as personnel costs, retirements, compensation and Medicare, health care, contractual changes and town equipment areas.
Town Board members offered little comment as they approved a public hearing for 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, at Town Hall to review the budget for adoption. The budget needs to finalized and submitted to the New York state comptroller’s office by Nov. 23.
•Other financial items included the board approval of 13 recreational part-time hires for the Lewiston Family Ice Rink, which is scheduled to open in coming weeks.
Councilman Bill Geiben also reviewed the town’s COVID-19 policy that will be in place for the ice rink operations over the holiday season.
“The ice rink obviously is outdoors and masks will not be necessary,” he said. “In the tent, that will be tightly sealed. It would be prudent on our part to follow the county regulations, by having masks required indoors.”
With that, the board approved a resolution requiring the wearing of masks inside the warming tent. The mask mandate would apply to all town employees, rink users and visitors.
“If they sit down and eat a snack, they can remove their masks – just like they do at any other facility,” Geiben said. “But if they’re just walking around (inside), they need to have their mask.”
The board said that, if any mask changes come from the Niagara County Health Department, it would adjust the mask requirements accordingly.
In other news, the Town Board:
•Adopted the Small Cell Telecommunications Solar Law. Addressing the new 5G rollout, the measure covers placement of wireless facilities in a municipality, including town code updates covering cell towers, small cells and distributed antenna systems, and assigns a fee structure.
“So, we are going to approve the law with fees and assign fees at a later time?” Geiben asked.
Councilman Jason Meyers said, “Yes, it will require a fee schedule.” He indicated a fee schedule will be set a later time. The measure passed on a 5-0 vote.
•The board approved the town’s water/sewer relevy, which requires the town’s unpaid water/sewer accounts from property owners to be placed on the 2021-22 town and county taxes. The unpaid breakdown includes: water, $100,101.66; sewer, $53,195.58; sewer solid, $7,326.76; and town charges, $33,100 – for a total of $193,223.
A complete listing of unpaid bills is on file in the town’s Water/Sewer Department.
•Wrapping up, the board approved a change order request by the Recreation Department request to add a larger swing-set design to a playground renovation underway at the Lewiston Pletcher Road Park. The change order totals $15,551.37 and will provide for a switch from a two-bay swing-set to a three bay, and from four to six swings in the playground setting. Recreation Department Director Mike Dashineau said the plan calls for the swings to remain at same height and fill the playground area better.
“Mike’s goal was to use the old swing set,” Broderick said. “But it was not sufficient, wasn’t adequate, so he’s not asking for any more money … so there would be no change in the cost.”