October 2, 2023
A regular meeting of the Town Board of the Town of Busti was held on Monday, October 2, 2023, at 6:45 p.m., at the Town of Busti, Town Administration Building, 125 Chautauqua Avenue, Lakewood, New York, with the following members present:
Supervisor Jesse M. Robbins
Councilman Jim Andrews
Councilman Doug Brown
Councilman Paul Gustafson
Supervisor Robbins called the meeting to order, with the salute to the flag and a moment of silence was observed.
Supervisor Robbins stated the Bicentennial Final Event was a success and thanked Town Clerk Darlene Nygren for all her efforts in planning and ensuring that everything was in order. Clerk Nygren stated it was a team event including the Bicentennial Committee, Busti Fire Department and Auxiliary, Board Members, and many volunteers.
Present at the meeting in person: Highway Superintendent Greg Johnson, Code Enforcement Officer Greg Sykes, Lakewood Busti Police Department Chief Chris DePonceau, and Busti Fire Department Chief Matt Stafford.
No comments from the public were made.
Town Clerk Darlene Nygren reported she attended the NYSTCA Regional Conference. The speakers were three Counsel for the Association of Towns of the State of New York. The topics discussed were One-Day Marriage Officiant Licenses, First Amendment Audits, and Town Budget Process. Clerk Nygren reported Kim Meleen, Chautauqua County Director of Real Property Services, spoke at the September Chautauqua County Municipal Clerks meeting. She shared her department’s process of preparing, inputting, and printing tax bills. She has implemented an additional step to the process to help eliminate any errors that could occur. Prior to the final print, her department will send each town a draft of the tax bill; the tax collector will be asked to review the draft and sign off stating that the information and levies for the town are correct, and then the bills will go to print. If an error is found after the draft has been approved, the additional printing cost will be billed to the town. In the meeting discussion, two town clerks/tax collectors shared that they “outsource” the printing of the bills to a company named Harris Print and Mail who print the bills, stuff the bills in envelopes, and mail the bills. The County Tax Department forwards the tax file to the company after it has been reviewed and approved by the town. Both clerks shared the cost of this service was approximately $2,500. Clerk Nygren researched the cost to the Town of Busti for printing, purchasing envelopes, stuffing envelopes, and postage was close to that amount. She asked the board’s permission to contact the company and request a quote. She noted they mail multiple bills together that use the same mailing address, which her office does as well. Discussion followed.
Councilman Hanson moved the following resolution, which was duly moved Councilman Andrews:
RESOLVED, Town Clerk Darlene Nygren be authorized to investigate alternate sources to print and mail the County Town Tax bills and allow her to sign any necessary contract for a quote that does not exceed $3,000.
Upon roll call vote, all aye, carried.
Clerk Nygren noted the Village of Lakewood has set their Trick or Treat hours for Tuesday, October 31st from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. She asked the board if they would like to set the same date and time for the town outside the village. The board agreed.
She reported FSC was in the office today and began installing the new cameras, HD-DVR, and additional monitor in the Clerk’s office. The technician noted that with the new system, there is the capability to outsource the camera views to various computers in the building, in addition to the DVR monitor and monitor in the Clerk’s office. The only cost to the town would be the cost of manpower to do the work, which he estimated one hour. The board agreed to pursue that option and have it outsourced to the Town Clerks, Court Clerks, and CEO’s computers.
Lastly, Clerk Nygren noted that Allied Alarm has a Virtual Keypad app to manage the door access system, including the ability to remotely release the doors. The app is downloaded to a smart phone or mobile device and a Virtual Keypad Browser can be used on a computer or tablet with internet connection. Both the app and browser provide the ability to add/delete passcodes and review history from anywhere you have a smart phone or internet connection. Clerk Nygren explained she currently uses the keypad located in her office to add or delete a fob for door access. That method is outdated and not easily accessed and there is no way to visually see who has access. She requested a quote but hadn’t received it prior to the meeting. She believes the app can be used to give access to the restroom at Loomis Park. Discussion followed. She will clarify if the app does include Loomis Park restroom access. She will submit the quote to the board prior to the next board meeting.
Lakewood Busti Police Department Chief Chris DePonceau reported 579 incidents from September 11th through October 2nd, with a year to date total of 6,881. The incidents include 22 bank alarms, 130 business checks, 12 checkto well being, 8 domestic disputes, 13 larceny complaints, 15 motor vehicle accidents, 24 property checks, 8 suspicious situations, 7 suspicious people, 132 vehicle stops, and 27 warrants – entered or served. There were no major incidents at the Bicentennial event, there were a couple fender benders in the parking lot. The board members commented how the police and security presence helped keep the crowd controlled and secure. They thanked Chief DePonceau for coordinating the security and thanked the Busti Fire Department for all their work in preparing the grounds for the event and their participation in the whole event, and thanked Councilman Brown and Mike Voty for organizing the parade. Discussion followed.
Highway Superinendent Greg Johnson reported the Loomis Park courts have been milled, the base underneath looks good, they will shim it out, and pave it; and then let it sit for the winter and coat it next year. The plan includes 3 pickleball courts, 1 tennis court, and 1 basketball court. The department paved Nelson Road which should finish up the paving for this year; they are working on pipe jobs and getting caught up with them.
Superintendent Johnson asked the board to consider creating a reserve account for new equipment; his thought is that it would help him to know exactly how much money is carried over from year to year for equipment purchases that have been delayed. Discussion followed. Councilman Hanson suggested asking the bookkeeper to provide the total of funds designated for the purchase of the trucks which is now included in the fund balance. Supervisor Robbins will discuss this further with the bookkeeper. Superintendent Johnson suggested that he and Councilman Hanson update the equipment 10-year plan. Councilman Hanson stated they should wait until the trucks are delivered and then revisit the plan. Superintendent Johnson stated the current plan suggests purchasing a new truck in 2024 with a trade-in, Councilman Hanson suggested getting a cost and trade-in value quote between the winter and spring.
Superintendent Johnson inquired what the balance of the ARPA funds is. He stated the department is outgrowing their current building; he would like to get a quote on constructing a 40’ x 60’ addition. The Village of Lakewood and Town of Harmony both built similar additions and the department is currently helping the Town of Kiantone construct a 50’ x 80’ addition. The addition would have taller ceilings and be used to work on equipment which would eliminate the need to keep trucks and equipment to be moved outside while a truck is being worked on. Discussion followed regarding the use of ARPA funds for previously suggested projects, including moving the basketball and tennis courts from their current location to on the hill at Lawson Park. Superintendent Johnson stated his department could strip the top soil and start building the pad and continue to remove trees. Councilman Hanson stated he would like to see the department remove any trees that are in the proposed location and then layout where the courts will be located and get the gravel pad laid out. Discussion returned to the question of constructing an addition on the Highway Garage. The board asked Superintendent Johnson if he had a rough estimate of what the cost of an addition would be, where it would be located, and the advantage to the department for having the additional work space. Superintendent Johnson stated he anticipates his department will do most of the construction as they have helped with the construction for Town of Kiantone’s new building. He asked the board what steps he would need to move forward with discussion of the addition. Superintendent Johnson will reach out to a few companies in the area and get an quick estimate of what the cost could be and report back to the board in November.
Code Enforcement Officer Jeff Swanson congratulated the Busti Fire Department, the LBPD, the Town Board, and the Bicentennial Committee on a successful Bicentennial Event. CEO Swanson noted he and Attorney Seachrist attended Supreme Court session regarding the Zoning Violations in Cottage Park. The judge directed CEO Swanson and Attorney Seachrist to compile a list of what the resident needs to do to be compliant with the law and to email the list to the resident, which Attorney Seachrist emailed the list to the resident on September 29th. CEO Swanson noted that he attended a session on a proposed NYS law requiring fully electric homes; the session was offered at Southern Tier West’s Spring Zoning and Planning Training. He has done some research on the subject and found that the proposed law has not passed but pointed out that included in the proposed law is an option for municipalities to opt out. CEO Swanson noted construction seems to be slowing down, and has heard from local contractors that have had some people pull their project due to interest rates and cost of materials. He believes the slow down will continue throughout the winter. Councilman Hanson inquired if letters have been sent to residents in the Vukote Canal area regarding the condition of their retaining wall. CEO Swanson will check with Fire Inspector Sykes and will report back to the board with the status of the letters. Mr. Swanson had a complaint from a Vukote area resident regarding a pungent smell from the canal. He and Highway Superintendent Johnson went to the location and agreed there is a smell but could not identify the source other than the water being stagnent. Highway Superintendent Johnson stated his department will be cleaning the canal in the spring. Supervisor Robbins asked about the complaint on the camper on Big Tree and Lawson Rds, Mr. Swanson has reached out to Chautauqua County Health Department three times regarding the appearance of the camper’s sewage being drained in the ditch. Supervisor Robbins will contact County Executive Wendel regarding the situation. Lastly, Councilman Gustafson stated the board would like to to have Williamson Law come to the town’s office for on-site training for CEO Swanson and Mr. Sykes. Discussion followed. Mr. Swanson will contact Williamson Law and report back to the board.
Busti Fire Department Chief Matt Stafford reported 16 EMS calls, 2 MVA, 5 Fire Alarms, and 4 Service Calls for a total of 27 calls for the month and YTD total of 297, down from 2022 which was 347 at this time. The department is pulling things together after the Bicentennial event and is very pleased with how everything went so smoothly at the celebration. Supervisor Robbins noted he had a resident stop by and say how impressed he was to see the number of volunteers and the community come together. Councilman Gustafson stated he would like to follow-up on the suggestion of creating a time capsule with the Bicentennial items and other documents from this time area. Supervisor Robbins agreed.
Supervisor Robbins noted under “Old Business” – Five Corners Water Improvement District – he talked to Brian but didn’t go any further. He will stop and talk to him further about the original plan. Discussion followed.
Supervisor Robbins reported he met with County Executive Wendel, Senator Borello, Assemblyman Goodell, the party who are interested in purchasing Stateline Speedway, and the head of NYS DEC. DEC stated they would get back to the interested party about how they could get permits for shallow well drilling. This is one of the issues with the purchase of the said property along with the fact that the County Health Department sent his FOIL request on to New York State. The interest party is concerned with those items and may pull out of the purchase. CEO Swanson stated he thought the board should move forward with the proposed law that went before the Planning Board even if the purchase does not go through. Supervisor Robbins noted the Planning Board had six items that needed to be addressed but these items can adjusted by the Town Board. He will contact Attorney Seachrist regarding moving forward with the law.
Supervisor Robbins noted the Planning Board has approved the Solar Liberty’s final site plan for the Orr Street Large-Scale solar project with some conditions. Supervisor Robbins will contact Attorney Seachrist regarding the need for Solar Liberty to appear before the Town Board prior to beginning the Building Permit process.
Town Clerk Nygren noted all Town Board members have received a copy of the 2024 Tentative Budget.
Supervisor Robbins asked the board for any comments. Councilman Brown stated he wanted to discuss the five-year Lakewood Busti Police Dept contract with the Village of Lakewood. Discussion followed. Board members would like to get a recommendation from the Village of Lakewood in writing regarding what they are suggesting for the cost of the agreement. Councilman Andrews stated he would like to see the amount designated for lake maintenance increased. Councilman Hanson noted that the agreement is written so it can be revisited and adjusted mid-contract term. Councilman Hanson stated his concern is to be sure that the town is following the “Fund Balance Policy” that has been previously established. He would like the board to look at the fund balances and address any overage and consider using that money to lower the tax rate. He noted in the next few year PILOT programs will be ending which will bring in more tax revenue; and if the proposed solar projects come to fruition they will also bring in revenue. Coucnilman Andrews stated the board should wait and see what the police contract cost ends up being. Coucnilman Hanson stated the board should change the maximum fund balance amounts if they believe the cost of things will continue to increase. Councilman Hanson stated he would like the board to authorize the purchase of a monitor for the boardroom that could be used for presentations to the board and used in court. Councilman Gustafson stated it would be good to have the monitor usable for Zoom meetings, in the case that we would ever have to return to remote meetings. Clerk Nygren will contact Eagle Zip and ask for their recommendation. Councilman Gustafson stated his concern is that the budget includes enough money for the new police contract to maintain the safety for the whole town.
Supervisor Robbins noted after the 2024 Tentative Budget was submitted to the Clerk, he realized the budget didn’t include $2,500 for Little Angels and after discussion with the board there should be an increase of $5,000 in the amount budgeted for Lake Maintenance.
Supervisor Robbins moved the following resolution which was duly moved by Councilman Hanson:
RESOLVED, the following adjustments should be made to the 2024 Tentative Budget which will then become the 2024 Preliminary Budget: add $2,500 to expenses in A3520.400 and add $5,000 to expenses in A8090.400; and to set a public hearing for the 2024 Preliminary Budget for Monday, November 6, 2023 at 7:00 p.m.
Upon roll call vote, all aye, carried.
Councilman Hanson stated after the Bicentennial event at the Firemen’s Grounds there has been conversation about the need to upgrade the buildings there that the public could rent throughout the year and/or special events could be held there. He is thinking something like what the Lakewood Fire Department has with a kitchen and restrooms. He would like the town to consider helping the Fire Department with a project like this which could bring in revenue for the department. Discussion followed.
Supervisor Robbins noted David Paterniti has officially resigned as Chairman of the Planning Board effective immediately. Supervisor Robbins would like to appoint Planning Board member, Joe Flikkema, as Chairman of the Planning Board. The board thanks Mr. Paterniti for his many years of service.
Supervisor Robbins moved the following resolution which was duly moved by Councilman Brown:
RESOLVED, the Town of Busti Town Board appoint Joe Flikkema as Chairman of the Planning Board, effective immediately.
Upon roll call vote, all aye, carried.
Supervisor Robbins move the following resolution which was duly moved by Councilman Andrews:
RESOLVED, all elected officials, employees, Planning and Zoning Board members be authorized to attend Southern Tier West’s Fall Planning and Zoning Training at JCC on November 17, 2023.
Upon roll call vote, all aye, carried.
Supervisor Robbins moved the following resolution which was duly moved by Councilman Andrews:
RESOLVED, that Supervisor Robbins be authorized and directed to pay the presented General Fund and the Highway Fund, Abstract No. 10 from warrant #576 to and including warrant #634 in the amount of $190,069.36.
Upon roll call vote, all aye, carried.
Supervisor Robbins moved to accept the following minutes: August 7, 2023 Regular Meeting, August 23, 2023 Special Meeting, and September 11, 2023 Regular Meeting. Motion was duly moved by Councilman Gustafson.
All in favor, carried.
The following reports and correspondence were presented to the board for their review:
Town Clerk Report – September 2023
Building Permit – September 2023
Assessor Report – October 2, 2023
Planning Board Minutes – September 28, 2023
Charter Communications – Charter Communications Notification September 12, 15, and 29, 2023
Councilman Brown noted he and Supervisor Robbins will be meeting with CS Energy, Wendel Engineering, Highway and Attorney Seachrist next week to continue discussion regarding the proposed 94C Solar Project.
Councilman Andrews reported he will attend an Alliance meeting next week. The Alliance has received requests for approximately $2,998,000 for this year. They will probably receive between $600,000 – $800,000 to be awarded. Councilman Andrews reported he, Highway Superintendent Johnson, and Clerk Nygren met with the Health Insurance agents; after reviewing the options all three agreed the best option was to continue offering the same policies through Independent Health which could potentially be an increase of $18,300 in the cost to the town. Supervisor Robbins stated he had included that increase in the Tentative Budget. Superintendent Johnson noted his department has been happy with Independent Health.
Councilman Gustafson reported he met with Josh Pike regarding the lack of lighting near his business on Cramar Drive, they took photos, and he is recommending the town request that National Grid install at least one more streetlight. Councilman Hanson will contact National Grid.
Supervisor Robbins moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:32 p.m. motion was duly moved by Councilman Brown.
All in favor, carried.
Respectfully Submitted, __________________________
Darlene H. Nygren, Town Clerk