Hello Residents! It certainly has been a while since there has been an update. Between the Soccer Club and coaching a team, it has been extremely busy. I'm happy to say that this House Soccer season was one of our most successful in the last few years. It's also quite exciting that we are able to offer a Fall Outdoor season this year again. If your child between the ages of 4 and 10 is interested - games will all be on Saturday's and practices will be on the night of the coaches choosing. Please register here http://www.tonawandasoccer.com/2018-fall-house-registration.html
Ok, now on to council business, which has been extremely busy. As many of you know, in an effort to provide a bit more transparency, 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Young and I have sponsored the creation of a Citizens Budget Team. There will be approximately 8 citizens who will be able to sit in on our workshops and provide feedback about what is shaping up to be an extremely tough budget season. I don't believe the numbers that we are preliminarily hearing. I know that we will be able to get the numbers down to a reasonable amount. It all comes down to the fact that we have some pretty spectacular services in the city and in my mind, you get what you pay for. If I were the one reading this, I wouldn't get worried yet. This council is working together very hard to be fiscally responsible.
A few months ago, the Fire Department asked the council if they could apply for the SAFER grant to help hire 2 firemen and get their staffing back to 26. It is no secret that the overtime costs were exceeding over $200K per year with the staffing deficit. The OT was projected to be upwards of $225K this year. What the grant allows us to do is hire 2 firefighters with 75% of the costs funded by the federal govt for the first year, then 65% in the second year, and 35% in the third. This alone will save the city a great deal of money. The other thing this does for our firefighters is allows them to go to trainings to keep current on Firefighting developments and technology - which is a huge part of the safety aspect of the job. Second and more importantly, it gives the guys much needed down time. Thinking about what the job entails, seeing most people at their most needy time, a time when they are in the most pain of their lives takes a toll on you no matter what anyone says.
In being in the government, you tend to learn things that you never considered that go into running a city. One of them is "How much does it cost to turn on streetlights?" Well, in this city, the cost to run streetlights for the year is in the area of $300,000. Yes. Yearly. If I ever was reincarnated, I'd sell college text books and try to run the streetlight division of National Grid. This is a racket that we keep getting harpooned on year after year...here's the quick story of what happens...the city owns the lights (the bulb at the end of the arm sticking into the street) the power company owns the arm that holds the light and the pole if there is electric lines being held up by the pole. And guess what? National Grid charges the city year after year for the poles and arms that hold the bulbs. No longer! The New York Power Authority has been able to enter the market and help cities like us with this ridiculous cost. We met with NYPA this last week and learned that in this program we can install LED streetlights (cost saving #1), and OWN the lights outright. The way the program is run, municipalities can purchase the new lights (our cost would be near 1.2 Million dollars) but the savings in electrical costs is 73% in the first year and each year after that. Think of that - right now, if the city is writing a check to National Grid for $10k per month that cost will be reduced to, not by, $2700 each and every month. With the savings, we are able to pay off the initial investment in 4.5 years and then all of the savings are realized back to the city. Additionally, these new lights can hold WiFi beacons...and companies like Verizon, AT&T, etc are working hard to put out a 5G network and they need places to put their equipment...these light poles are the perfect place for that...So in the next few weeks, I'll be reaching out to these companies to see if they would be willing to "rent" space on top of our light poles. Stay tuned!
Young St. Closure (Main St area) - here it is right from the horses mouth - I am only in favor of permanent closure if there is a plan that is viable and sustainable in this city. I think the most important word in that statement was sustainable. When I see that - then a decision will be made and not until then.
The Federal Govt moved the Tonawanda Landfill up on their list for remediation. Last I heard the work would start within a year and take about 18-24 months to fully clean up. Who knows? The speed of government is incredibly slow, hopefully we will see some movement soon.
Young St (State St. Area) - This was a project that when begun, it was stated that it would be a 3 month project. Until they opened it up and saw that the soil underlaying the sewer was, for lack of a better term, eroding away. If they just replaced it as is, the sewers would have collapsed again in the future. It is out to bid now for a company to come in and take care of this problem....but hey, the bar is open!
At this time, I have no updates on the Little League Drive development.
Spaulding - no new updates other than I can say it is being aggressively marketed. We just have to find the right person.
I hope you all have a great week. See ya around the 4th Ward .
Check back often to see what's going on as I walk the trail!