Councilman, Resident Don’t Want Pursuit Of Annexation
Two city residents vented their frustration to the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities and the Jamestown City Council about the annexation pursuit of the Dow Street substation.
On Monday during the BPU meeting, Andrew Liuzzo, an At-Large councilman, said it was a mistake to pursue the annexation of the substation following the ruling by the Fourth Department Appellate Division Court in Rochester last week cited that the attorney’s for the city — Bond, Schoeneck & King — filed necessary paperwork to late. He said it was a bad idea for the BPU to hire outside attorney’s to handle the case. He added that he thinks the legal case should go no further.
“The real damage was done to our neighbors,” he said.
Liuzzo said the next mayor of Jamestown, of which he is a candidate along with Eddie Sundquist and David Wilfong, will have a difficult time rebuilding a relationship with municipal leaders from the town of Ellicott, village of Falconer and the Falconer Central Schools.
Doug Champ, city resident and retired BPU employee, spoke at both the BPU and the council meetings Monday. He said the amount of money spent on the annexation, which is $405,000 to date, could have been spent on BPU projects to improve efficiencies instead. He said BPU customers could have used that money.
In January, the BPU board approved change order number four to fund Bond, Schoeneck & King an additional $125,000 for anticipated legal costs, bringing the total appropriations to $405,000.
Following the council meeting, Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, said the decision whether to continue pursuing the annexation of the Dow Street substation will be determined by the BPU staff just like it was in January 2017 when the BPU board requested that the Jamestown City Council initiate annexation proceedings of the Dow Street substation, which is currently located in the village of Falconer in the town of Ellicott along the city border.
Teresi said the Appellate Court could have ruled on the merits of the case against the city, “shutting the door for good” on the annexation. However, he said the court didn’t and only ruled on the technicality of the late paperwork being filed.
“The door is wide open,” he said.
Teresi was asked if the BPU board should wait until there is a new mayor next year to determine whether the annexation should be pursued again. Teresi said that is the decision the BPU board will have to consider.
The Appellate Court released its decision Thursday stating that the petitioner’s — the city — original proceeding was untimely. According to the court’s ruling, the proceeding must be brought within 30 days after the filing in the office of the county clerk.
The court states the respondents — town of Ellicott, village of Falconer and the Falconer Central Schools — filed with the clerk’s office that the annexation was not in the overall public interest on Sept. 13, 2017. However, the city filed that the annexation is in the overall public interest more than a month later on Nov. 8.
Officials in Falconer and Ellicott have publicly stated they were against the annexation proposal because it would cost them tax revenue. Currently, the BPU pays a total of around $325,000 in property tax payments to the village of Falconer ($69,000); town of Ellicott ($34,000); Falconer Central Schools ($154,000); and Chautauqua County ($69,000).