Voting And Discussing

Settlement Eyed In Annexation Lawsuits

Mayor Kim Ecklund is pictured during Monday’s City Council meeting discussing her tour of manufacturing companies and businesses that received ARPA funding as Tony Dolce, R-Ward 2 and council president, looks on.

A settlement of the ongoing lawsuits over annexation of a BPU substation located in the village of Falconer have been proposed.

“We had a discussion and a vote on the annexation,” Ecklund said. “The BPU has agreed to the terms of an agreement with the litigation on that … to fully settle the annexation legal proceedings commenced by the city of Jamestown. It’s a 20% reduction on the current assessed value. You will hear about it in the media because the next step is it has to go to all the other agencies involved.”

The town of Ellicott, village of Falconer and Falconer Central School District boards will vote on the agreement before the council votes. Dave Leathers, BPU general manager, will speak to City Council members about the agreement next month.

Efforts to annex the BPU’s Dow Street substation began in January 2017, with the utility trying to save money on PILOT payments it makes to the village of Falconer, town of Ellicott and Falconer Central School District. Annexing the substation would have saved the BPU money and increased PILOT payments to the city and Jamestown Public Schools District while resulting in revenue decreases for the town, village and Falconer school district. In 2019, a three-member Fourth Department panel dismissed the city’s original annexation request on a technicality, ruling the city hadn’t filed its initial court filings in state Supreme Court within a 30-day window prescribed in state law. As part of that 2019 ruling, the Appellate Division did not make any ruling on the merits of the case.

The Board of Public Utilities and city then started a new annexation proceeding in March 2020. There were court hearings in 2020 and 2022, but the annexation effort largely stalled over the past couple of years since technical arguments were dismissed by the Fourth Department Appellate Division.

With the settlement agreement there will be a 20% reduction in the assessed value of the Dow Street Substation property, lasting for ten years. The property is currently assessed at $6,592,856 and the reduced assessment will be $5,274,284. The agreement now has to go to the Town of Ellicott, the village of Falconer, the Falconer school board before coming to the Jamestown City Council for a vote.

“What it does is locks in a number, regardless of what else happens with increases and decreases in evaluations, regardless of what happens from the state’s recommendations for the assessment on this and locks in a number for ten years with certainty for all of the parties for a ten year period what the assessed value of those properties would be,” said William Wright, BPU counsel, during Monday’s BPU board meeting. .

Ecklund discussed several other items during her report to the City Council on Monday.

Later this week the National League of Cities will be in town for two days. Part of the trip will include a manufacturing roundtable discussion today at Artone Manufacturing. Topics to be discussed include proposals to create an early talent pipeline partnership with Dream It Do It and Chautauqua Striders as was discussed during a recent Jamestown Local Development Corporation meeting and improving employee retention opportunities by reopening to the public the SAFER (Supporting & Facilitating Employee Retention) Program that was run by The Resource Center from 2018 to 2020 with money from the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative. The roundtable will also discuss “Leveraging Technology Investment & Integration to Help Build & Maintain Your Workforce through SHIFT 2.0,” a collaborative effort of Buffalo Manufacturing Works, Insyte Consulting and Launch New York.

“They will be meeting throughout the city, both in City Hall and throughout multiple manufacturing businesses regarding the ‘Good Jobs, Great Cities’ program,” Ecklund said.

Ecklund said she was excited to show off some things in the city. She has also been touring for the last week and a half, some of the businesses who were the big recipients of ARPA funding from the city along with some manufacturers.

“A lot of good things are happening in Jamestown and I don’t think I was at all surprised by what is going on in the manufacturing world,” Ecklund said. “It’s interesting to note that of the names of places that Jamestown hits the mark on of things that they could talk about that were not confidential, we have companies here working on things that go into things like space rockets, a lot of aviation, a lot of stuff for New York City and the metro system, both subway and rail car, Navy, government stuff. It’s really quite amazing when you hear some of the customers and some of the things that are actually happening here.”

Ecklund also discussed Restore NY Grant applications, saying that while the city did not receive any grants last year there is hope for getting some this year. Letters of recommendation have been received both for the city and from the city for some organizations.

“Hopefully next month we can get an update for you from Paula for where we are on things,” Ecklund said. “She’s been pumping out a lot of grants, she is working on some shared services grants. I know she’s working with BPU on some stuff. She’s got her hands in a lot of things right now.”


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