December City Council Preview

City Counselors

Another first Wednesday is upon us…Full docket tonight…here’s what’s on tap:

Public Hearings:  Property Sales

What it is:  Prior to considering any disposition of City-owned property, City Council holds a public hearing to help determine if there is any continued municipal use for the property.  The City is evaluating possible disposition of property at 49 North Exchange, 58 Middle Street, and an unaddressed parcel on Clark Street.

Why it’s important:  These hearings are typically a precursor to a sale or lease of property.  This is the community’s opportunity to weigh on on whether the City should retain this for existing or future public needs.

What action Council is taking:  Council is set to receive comment on the potential public use of the parcels.  No action in proposed for tonight.

Public Hearing:  Sewer Rates

What it is:  Sewer rates are amended by Local Law.  Passage of any local law requires a public hearing to hear feedback on proposed changes.  City Council is proposing to increase sewer rates by $3.60 per quarter for most minimum water users.

Why it’s important:  This is the final opportunity to sewer users to provide feedback to City Council on proposed rate increases.

What action Council is taking:  This item is strictly for receiving public feedback on the rate change.  Council is set to consider the rate changes later in the agenda.

Resolution Authorizing Sale of Property:  Waterloo Tract

What it is:  The City owns a little over seven acres of property adjacent to the Seneca Lake State Park entrance.  We have received a proposal from Dave Bunnell of Geneva to acquire the property for redevelopment.  He proposes to pay the City $200,000 to acquire the property for the development of no more than 32 units of vacation rentals and senior housing.

Why it’s important:  In many cases, the sale of City property means returning it to the tax roll.  In this case, the property is located outside of the City, so no future revenues are possible.  That said, this site represents a continued maintenance cost, which will be alleviated by the sale, and an infusion of capital to the City to support capital and operations needs.

What action is Council taking:  The sale requires a supermajority vote of Council.  If approved, the purchaser will have a period to complete due diligence before the sale is finalized.

Resolution Requesting Accelerated Action on Foundry-Related Clean-Up

What it is:  New York State has determined that environmental contamination found in the neighborhoods surrounding the former Geneva Foundry is likely connected to foundry operations.  As such, they are developing a clean-up plan to remediate environmental issues on properties surrounding the site.  Council is considering action to request that the State of New York quickly move to finalize the plan and complete cleanup.

Why it’s important:  The cleanup project represents a significant number of properties in the neighborhoods surrounding the former foundry.  Quick DEC action is critical to eliminating concerns associated with environmental impact.

What action Council is taking:  The proposed resolution calls on the DEC to move quickly to finalize cleanup plans and begin work, to accelerate access to the superfund dollars needed for the cleanup, and offers the assistance of the Geneva Neighborhood Resource Center in communication with residents and scheduling of cleanup.

Resolution Engaging Tanko Lighting for LED Streetlight Conversion Project

What it is:  Recent changes in state law require utility providers to, at the request of cities, sell street lighting infrastructure to municipalities in order to install LED fixtures for energy savings.  City Council has charged staff with executing such an effort in Geneva.  This resolution engages Tanko Lighting, a street lighting firm specializing in LED conversion, to commence the project.

Why it’s important:  Street lights are a major energy consumer for City operations.  Each year, the City spends over $300,000 for this service, which, utilizing legacy fixtures, consumes a significant amount of energy.  This project will go a long way to meet our greenhouse gas and carbon reduction goals.

What action Council is taking:  Council is considering authorization of execution of an agreement with Tanko Lighting to negotiate and facilitate a purchase of the legacy fixtures from NYSEG, and conversion of the fixtures to LED technology.

Resolution Revising Sales Tax Collection Agreement

What it is:  The City of Geneva participates in a Countywide sales tax distribution agreement with all other Ontario County municipalities.  The agreement spells out how the County sales tax revenue will be distributed.  Council has approved a seven-year agreement, which calls for sales tax revenues to be distributed according to our relative population and assessed value.  A recent amendment to the agreement calls for possible increases to city collections.

Why it’s important:  Sales tax represents the 2nd largest revenue in the City’s annual budget, at nearly $3 million per year.  This agreement provides for an enhanced revenue stream for the City.  The amended agreement enables the City to collect up to $75,000 in additional annual set-asides, dependent upon countywide sales tax revenue performance.

What action is Council taking?:  Staff is recommending that Council amend the terms of the approved agreement to allow for the increase in collections.

Action on Utility Rates

What it is:  City Council has adopted the 2017 water and wastewater budgets.  The budgets called for a 7.5% rate increase for water and sewer users.

Why it’s important:  In 2016, City Council adopted a conservation-based billing program, which results in lower water and sewer rates for those customers who use the least amount of water.  Water usage for 2016 was reduced, which resulted in reduced rate collections.  In order to calibrate for conservation, Council needs to adjust rates upward for 2017.  Proposed rates remain below 2015 levels.

What action is Council taking:  Changing water rates requires two readings of an ordinance.  Tonight, City Council will be asked to pass the second reading of the ordinance.  Sewer rate changes require adoption of a local law.  City Council will consider approval of the law.

2017 Capital Program Financing and Environmental Review

What it is:  City Council has approve the 2017 budget, which includes the capital plan for projects to commence next year.  Projects include accessibility and facility improvements to City Hall, acquisition of and conversion of street lights to LED technology, reconstruction of Clark Street, remediation of the former Geneva Foundry site, development of the Finger Lakes Food Innovation Center, improvements to Jefferson Park, enhancements to the downtown and lakefront WiFi network, improvements to the sewer collection system, enhancement to control elements of the water and wastewater treatment plants, and enhancements to the wastewater treatment system.  The resolutions under consideration evaluate the environmental impacts of these projects and authorize financing activities.

Why it’s important:  The projects under consideration make Geneva’s public facilities more functional, accessible and attractive, reduce our carbon footprint and energy costs, enhance our economic development assets, and increase our ability to be good stewards to Seneca Lake.

What action Council is taking:  Council is considering action to evaluate the projects under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and authorize financing activity for the projects.

Discussion Regarding 2017 Budget Amendments–Outside Agencies

What it is:  City Council has approved the 2017 budget, which includes allocations to outside agencies.  Two agencies have petitioned City Council for additional consideration.  City Council will discuss the possibility of amending the budget to include the Colony Caregivers and National Lake Trout Derby.

Why it’s important:  City Council utilizes outside agencies to deliver municipal services at  more efficient costs by leveraging public-private partnerships.   The Colony Caregivers has proposed to mitigate challenges associated with feral cats in the City.  The Lake Trout Derby proposes to market Geneva nationally, and drive tourism traffic to the City.

What action Council is taking:  The item is on for discussion only tonight.  Council may direct staff to schedule the item for a formal vote at a future meeting.  Any budget amendment requires a supermajority of support for approval.

Resolution Authorizing Collection of Liens

What it is:  Throughout the year, the City imposes charges for certain services that have an outsized demand on City resources.  Issues such as code enforcement violations, inspections, and some water and sewer activities are assessed fees, which are paid by the user.  In cases where the user fails to pay, fines are levied on the next tax bill.

Why it’s important:  Fines that go uncollected result in property tax payers funding these enhanced services.  It is critical that the actual user of the service be required to pay any related costs.

What action Council is taking:  Council is considering a resolution to collecting the fees from the associated property owners by adding them to the respective tax bills.

Resolution Declaring Certain Items as Surplus

What it is:  From time to time, City equipment is of such an age or condition that it is no longer useful for municipal services.  In order to dispose of it, City Council must determine that no continued public value can be derived from use.

Why it’s important:  This oversight ensures that municipal property contributes the maximum public value before being sold or destroyed.

What action Council is taking:  City Council will consider a resolution determining that the equipment has no further public value, and authorizing staff to dispose of it.

Board and Commission Appointments–Local Development Corporation

What it is:  The Local Development Corporation is charged with supporting the City in its economic development and neighborhood revitalization activities.  The Board is appointed by City Council.

Why it’s important:  It is critical to source and leverage local expertise for Boards and Commissions in order to advance the City toward its vision.

What action Council is taking:  There are three seats on the Board available for appointment for three year terms commencing in January.  Two of the seats are designated for local lenders and one seat is designated for an individual with urban planning expertise.  Council will consider the reappointment of Robert Sollenne and Robert Koczent to address the financial institution requirements and Kirin Maker to address planning needs.

Phew!  Lots of really important work to be done!  Meeting kicks off at 7 p.m. at the Public Safety Building (255 Exchange Street).  Remember, if you can’t make it in person, catch it live on Finger Lakes Television, or rebroadcast throughout the month.


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