BOSTON — Despite the opportunity to voice their opinions on the town of Boston’s tentative budget for 2014, residents held their peace during a brief public hearing, opened by the town board during its meeting on Oct. 15.
“You’d think the public hearing on the budget would be something that the folks would want to have some input on,” said Councilman Jay Boardway. “I was shocked that nobody had any comments regarding our budget, in the public hearing. You’d think people that are interested in town government would have at least a question or a concern.”
The absence of public opinion did not keep the board members from expressing their own feelings, regarding the proposal. Boardway, for one, pointed out some of the cost-cutting measures used over the past few years that have resulted not only in lower tax rates, but also improvements to the town itself. One example Boardway pointed out was the fire contract with the town of Hamburg.
“The administration that was here, prior to us being here, had entered into a contract, kind of an endless contract, with the town of Hamburg for discharge services,” said Boardway. “That contract just sort of had magical, built-in increases, every single year. It just kept going up and up and up and up, and an interesting thing happened: I asked them to lower the cost of the contract, and they said ‘Yes.’ It was magical. Nobody had ever asked; nobody had ever bothered.
“The contract we were stuck with, for our first couple years here, was in 2009, $51,252; 2010 was $52,692; 2011 was $52,949, and 2012 was $54,366. For 2013, this year, the first year of our new agreement with the town of Hamburg, we paid $30,000 to them, for dispatching our volunteers. This is a four-year agreement, right now. This saves the built-in raises that the old contract has $100,000, just in the fire dispatch and the EMS dispatch in this town.”
Boardway added that the extra funds are being used to improve the town park and Veterans Park, renovate sports fields and install working bathrooms.
Councilman Jeff Genzel, who also serves as the town’s engineering liaison, laid out the engineering costs before and after his taking office in 2010.
“When I became a councilman, I established an engineering liaison position, because of the out-of-control spending that happened during the previous administration, so I want to give you a few numbers here. These are going to be hard to take. In 2008, the town of Boston spent $377,210 on engineering. They had two engineers on board. You might remember that this was the same year that the firemen’s pension tanked, lost 30 percent. Maybe if the people in charge were watching the store, at that time, that wouldn’t have happened.
“In 2009, the town of Boston spent $171,280 on engineering costs. We still can’t figure out what they bought. In 2010, Marty, Jay and [my] first year in office [with] new Town Engineer Jim Hannon: $31,000, folks, for the whole year. [In] 2011, $53,353. Take in mind that we had designed a whole water project and watched it go in, so that’s why that’s a little higher than 2010. [In] 2012, $49,635. Now that includes everything. All the projects we did, all the planning board requests, the [Zoning Board of Appeals] requests – all the engineering costs rolled up into one number. [In] 2013, year to date, we’ve spent $24,679. In the last three years, we have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in engineering costs, and we actually have something to show for it.”
“It’s a joint effort to keep your taxes low,” said Supervisor Martin Ballowe. “Every department head works really hard, to stay within their budget or drop it.
“Where other towns raise their taxes, the town of Boston has dropped three years; fourth year, kept it the same as the previous year. So, for me, that’s a home run. That is a great thing to stand up and be proud of, of all the things we accomplish in this town, besides all the improvements, which are very nice, and I know people appreciate it. But for me, that’s No. 1. As a taxpayer, I can appreciate that.
In other board matters:
– Genzel addressed the Shero Road waterline extension, reporting that the cost estimates had been finished and were forwarded to grant writer Connie Minor. Pending approval from a federal agency, an income survey will go out to that area. Once the survey is approved, a meeting will be held with the residents to explain how to fill out the survey. “If we send it out now, no one will understand it and disregard it and waste time and postage for everybody,” Genzel explained.
Genzel also addressed comments from a resident who said he believed the project was at a standstill.
“I had a chance to talk to a bunch of the residents, up in that area, who would be benefiting from this public water, and they were so happy to hear this project has been moving forward, for a few months now,” Genzel said.
“Unfortunately, they had heard from a woman who lives up there that this project isn’t moving forward at all and that we’re just pulling the wool over people’s eyes. I assured these people, these residents, that this project is moving forward, based on the numerous hours I’ve spent working with the Erie County Water Authority, Connie Minor, Jim Hannon, our engineer, the supervisor and also our bookkeeper Kathy Selby, so there’s no possible way this project cannot be moving forward, because it is.”
– The board passed Resolution 2013-15, “Erie County Community Development Block Grant Requests.” The board moved to authorize Ballowe “to sign, submit and execute a contract with [ECCDBG] Program for the cited projects upon approval of the ECCDBG.” In addition, it was resolved that the board “provides a 50 percent or $111,475 match for the Boston Cross Road Storm Drain Extension Project Phase II, which has a total estimated cost of $222,950.” The motion passed by unanimous vote.
– The board also moved to place its unpaid water bills on the 2014 tax roll, for a total bill of $1,203.64.
– Ballowe reported a need for members for Meals on Wheels.
“We really need volunteers for that, to deliver this food. Everybody in this town hall steps in, when people don’t make it,” said the supervisor. “They go out and they deliver food to the elderly who rely on that. So, we do need volunteers; we do pay for the mileage on that. It’s a nice thing to do. If you know anyone who wants to volunteer, ask them to come down to the town hall.”
The next Boston town board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Boston Town Hall, at 8500 Boston State Road in Boston.