Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 4:36 pm

Press release:

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, (R-C-I, Elma) says $3 million in state funding will help eligible municipalities and rural electricity cooperatives purchase electric vehicles for their municipal use fleets. The program is part of the New York Power Authority’s Municipal Electric-Drive Vehicle Program, which provides financial assistance to facilitate the replacement of less fuel-efficient vehicles.

“This funding will help towns and villages purchase electric and hybrid vehicles that are more fuel efficient and promote a cleaner environment,” Gallivan said. “The state’s financial support allows municipalities to participate in this important initiative and makes the program affordable to more communities.”

In Senate District 59, the villages of Arcade, Castile, Churchville, Silver Springs, and Springville are eligible to participate in the Municipal Electric-Drive Vehicle Program.
Several types of electric and hybrid vehicles are offered for purchase under the program, including passenger cars, pickup trucks, off-road specialty vehicles and heavy-duty utility bucket trucks. 

Municipalities and rural electric cooperatives that currently receive low-cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority are eligible to participate in this program. The funding builds on $5 million previously distributed under this program that has helped put 61 clean vehicles into service in 24 towns and villages across the state.

New York Power Authority's Municipal Electric-Drive Vehicle program works by providing zero-interest financing. The funds made available for the purchase of these vehicles are recovered over the course of three years.

New York Power Authority serves 47 municipal and four rural electric cooperative utility systems around the state, providing them with low-cost hydropower to help meet the electricity needs of their residents and businesses.

Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 4:27 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, government, taxes, news.

Press release:

On Monday, the Senate approved legislation to compensate property taxpayers who are owed money by the state after last year’s changes to the School Tax Relief (STAR) program. The bill (S3505) cosponsored by Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, (R-C-I, Elma), enables taxpayers who have applied for STAR but who do not receive accurate reimbursement payments from the state in a timely fashion to be paid interest for each day their check is late.

“Delays in issuing checks through the STAR program are unacceptable and have left far too many homeowners frustrated,” Gallivan said. “The state and the Department of Taxation and Finance must work to correct these delays as soon as possible and ensure that hardworking taxpayers receive the rebate they are due.” 

Since its enactment, the original STAR program has provided almost $60 billion in property tax relief to eligible senior and non-senior homeowners. This year alone, total STAR benefits to eligible recipients are estimated to be almost $3.4 billion.

Last year’s budget changed the current STAR program by phasing out direct payments to school districts on behalf of eligible homeowners. It converted the exemptions into a refundable property-tax credit for new homeowners. The conversion applied to people who purchased their primary residence after the 2015 STAR application deadline or did not apply for the exemption by the 2015 STAR application deadline.

The credit was paid in the form of checks that were supposed to have arrived in the mail by Sept. 30. However, multiple reports and many constituent complaints indicate that numerous checks arrived late or with the wrong amount of money. The Senate estimates the average basic STAR benefit is $840 per eligible homeowner and the average senior STAR benefit is $1,555. Many property owners need that money to pay their taxes on time.

This legislation would require STAR checks to be postmarked by Sept. 15 to allow taxpayers adequate time to pay their school tax bills, and require added interest for any late payment penalty imposed by a school district plus interest of 3 percent annually for checks postmarked after Sept. 15.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly.

Monday, February 6, 2017 at 5:40 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, announcements, government.

A comprehensive bill to bring ride-sharing to upstate New York communities has been approved by the Senate. The bill (S4159) provides the framework for ride-sharing companies to expand operations outside of New York City. It will also enable new jobs to be created by offering safe, reliable transportation options to upstate residents and visitors.

“It is simply unacceptable that ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft are not available in Western New York and other upstate communities,” said Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, (R-C-I, Elma).

“This legislation will create jobs and provide more transportation options for residents and visitors while generating funds to improve our roads and bridges. I urge the Assembly and the governor to act on this bill and end the unfair treatment of Upstate New York when it comes to ride-sharing services.” 

This Senate bill differs from the executive budget proposal by significantly cutting the taxes to be paid by ride-share customers to make it more attractive for businesses to operate here. While the budget includes a tax of 5.5 percent on rides that begin outside of New York City, the Senate’s measure cuts that tax to 2 percent. Additionally, it does not subject rides to the 4-percent state sales tax. That new revenue would go directly toward infrastructure improvements for roads, bridges, and county transit needs.

The measure includes important protections for both drivers and consumers as part of the regulatory framework authorizing Transportation Network companies (TNC) like Uber and Lyft to operate in Upstate communities. It requires criminal and driving history background checks, passenger notifications of driver information and trip charges, and the adoption of nondiscrimination and zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policies. 

The bill also creates a new TNC Accessibility Task Force to identify and address barriers to and opportunities for greater access for New Yorkers of all abilities. It also includes TNC drivers in workers’ compensation insurance offered through the existing Black Car Fund, among other provisions.

The bill will be sent to the Assembly.

Friday, February 3, 2017 at 12:42 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, news, Sen. Gallivan, government.

Press release

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, (R-C-I, Elma) issued the 2016 report of the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction.  

Gallivan serves as chairman of the committee, which has legislative oversight of proposals pertaining to Correction, Penal and Executive Laws. In 2016, the committee reviewed a total of 57 bills and approved the nomination of Lt. Col. George P. Beach II as superintendent of the New York State Police. 

“One of the most important responsibilities of government is to help ensure the safety of our citizens and our communities,” said Gallivan, a former State Trooper and Sheriff of Erie County.  “I want to thank the members of the committee for their work in reviewing legislation dealing with various aspects of our criminal justice system.” 

Of the 57 bills reported to the committee, 13 passed both the Senate and Assembly, and eight were signed into law.  

These include:

    • Legislation requiring the Division of Criminal Justice Services to notify local law enforcement within 48 hours of learning that a convicted sex offender has had a change of address;

    • Legislation allowing prior statements made by crime victims to be provided to the Board of Parole for consideration at each board appearance.  The law protects victims from reliving such a traumatic experience every time a parole hearing is held; and

    • Legislation ensuring due process of inmates who require a translator at parole board hearings. 

Also during the 2016 session, the committee approved the nomination of Beach as the 15th superintendent of the New York State Police. He now commands more than 5,000 troopers, investigators and civilian support staff who provide policing and public safety services to New Yorkers and other police agencies across the state. 

 A full copy of the committee report is available here

Friday, February 3, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) has sent correspondence to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly expressing a deep concern regarding the expedited implementation of the biometric exit-entry system.

"Western New Yorkers and our economy rely heavily on the timely movement between Canada and the United States via the Peace Bridge," Collins said. "While keeping our communities safe is my number one priority, I want to ensure that before any agency implements the biometric exit-entry system fully, we examine all possible transportation impacts and take steps to alleviate any disruptions that may be created. Our southern and northern borders have different security issues and I hope those differences are taken into account."

The biometric exit-entry program was requested by the 9/11 Commission to better track individuals traveling in and out of the country. However, its implementation has been delayed because of the significant logistical issues it could create. 

The issue has recently been raised because President Donald Trump in his executive order on immigration states: 

"The Secretary of Homeland Security shall expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States, as recommended by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States."

In the letter, Collins writes, "I strongly support increased national security measures across our nation and commend President Trump for his swift action. However, I am concerned that an expedited implementation of this system will not take into consideration the differences in security interests at our northern and southern borders."

Furthermore, he urges Kelly "to carefully consider the widespread impacts implementation of a biometric entry-exit system would have on our northern border."

Collins previously introduced an amendment in 2015 requiring a pilot program be implemented before a full-scale implementation of the biometric exit-entry program to avoid any major commerce and travel disruptions.

Full text of the letter can be seen here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 4:00 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, announcements, taxes, Sen. Gallivan, government.

Press release:

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) recently joined colleagues in the New York State Senate in passing legislation to make the property tax cap permanent. This would ensure the continuation of a measure that has already saved taxpayers more than $15.5 billion.  

The bill (S1207), sponsored by Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan (R-C-I, East Northport), would make the property tax cap permanent statewide, except in New York City where no cap is currently in place.

“The property tax cap has been very successful in putting an end to skyrocketing taxes in communities across the state,” Gallivan said. “New York property owners pay some of the highest taxes in the country and the only way to limit spending and get property taxes under control is to make the tax cap permanent.”

Growth in property taxes soared by more than 73 percent for New York school districts between 2001 and 2011, and 53 percent in counties. The property tax cap was first enacted in 2011 due to Senate Republican efforts to reduce New Yorkers’ tax burden. When the cap was created, it included a commitment to increase support to school districts and has resulted in a total of $4.9 billion – 26 percent – in school aid increases over the last five years.

The cap limits the annual growth of property taxes levied by local governments and school districts to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. By keeping within the cap, taxpayers statewide – except in New York City – have saved $15.5 billion over the last five years, and will save more than $66.4 billion cumulatively over the first 10 years of its implementation.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 10:33 am

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) released the following statement regarding President Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court:

“President Trump showed America his commitment to conservative principles with tonight’s Supreme Court nomination. Judge Neil Gorsuch will be a strong voice on the court for years to come. I fully anticipate that he will continue interpreting laws as they are written and defend the constitutionally protected rights all Americans hold dear. I urge my Democrat colleagues in the Senate to recognize the clear message American voters sent on Election Day and quickly confirm Judge Gorsuch.”

Monday, January 30, 2017 at 5:35 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, Earned Income Tax Credit, government.

There are as many as 559 people in Wyoming County leaving as much as $8,150 on the table each year simply because they're not completing the right IRS or state forms when they file their tax returns.

The money is what's called an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the program is one many economists believe has helped lift millions of people over the past couple of decades out of poverty.

The EITC rewards work and economists say that is the right incentive to get people who can work into jobs that set them on a path toward better lives.

"One of the problems with redistribution of incomes is getting the money to the right people," said Michael Wolkoff, associate chair in the Department of Economics at the University of Rochester. "You want to do it in a way that encourages people to work if you can. ... The problem with general welfare is that it takes some people who can work and provides them with an incentive not to work and that's not what you want to do with welfare policy in general."

The first EITC was enacted in 1975 and the program was revised and expanded in both the Reagan and Clinton administrations. 

The program provides a lump-sum payment to qualifying people based on their income from work, even if self-employed, and the formula is designed to encourage poor people to earn more money, growing their income enough so eventually they earn enough and are no longer eligible for the EITC. 

As Wolkoff explained, it turns the value of a job that pays $10 an hour into one that might be worth $12 an hour for the wage earner. 

If there's one flaw with the program, Wolkoff suggested, it might be the nature of the lump-sum payment, which isn't an immediate payoff for the actual extra work at the time of the work, and social science tends to show that incentives work best when rewards are given in proximity to the goal behavior. 

To the degree that's an issue is hard to determine, but a program that allocated money over the course of the work year would be much more expensive to administer, Wolkoff said.

Even so, numerous studies over the years show that program is successful in making lives better for millions of people across the nation:

  • Children in families receiving the credit tend to do better in school and they are more likely to attend college;
  • More single mothers have transitioned from public assistance with the help of the program and tend to earn more money later in life than single mothers who don't enter the workforce through the program;
  • Recipients of all types tend to earn more money later in life;
  • In one year, 2013, 9.4 million people were lifted out of poverty, including 5 million children; and 22 million people were less poor. 

The ability of people earning more money after participating in the program is a result of those people gaining work experience, new skills and on-the-job training, Wolkoff noted.

The program is designed to provide the greatest benefit to workers with children. For example, a single adult won't receive more than $506 from the federal government, but a family with three or more qualifying children will receive $6,269. The worker with no children can get another $152 from the state and for the family with three children, the state kicks in another $1,881.

Those amounts are also scaled by the individual's amount of earned income each year.

In New York, nearly 1.9 million people received the state's EITC last year, for a total payout of state and federal credits of $5.4 million.

In Wyoming County, the IRS reports there were 2,710 people receiving state and federal credit. That led to an additional $7.09 million flowing into the local economy. The average payout for qualifying Wyoming County residents was $2,672 in state and federal credits.

But then there are still those 559 local residents who qualify for the credit but didn't apply last year, according to IRS. For New York as a whole, there are 383,000 residents who didn't apply.  

The state put out a press release on Friday to help raise awareness of the program because the program is such a proven success for lower-income people willing and able to work.

"I think looking at that last column of figures (the 383,000 not getting the credit), there are hundreds of thousands of people across the state who are not claiming that credit and that's reason enough for us to do all we can do to boost awareness," said James Gazzale, a spokesman for NYS Taxation and Finance. "This is cash that counts for families so they can go out and pay bills, put food on the table, pay for school supplies, pay for all the necessities we sometimes take for granted. All of these families that are eligible and not claiming it, it can be a big boost for them."

For more information

• Federal Earned Income Tax Credit
• New York State Earned Income Tax Credit
• Recordkeeping suggestions for self-employed persons
• Contact a NYS Tax Department representative at (518) 457-5181

Monday, January 30, 2017 at 2:35 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, government, Republican, Congressman Collins.

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) released the following statement addressing President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration:

“Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our communities here in Western New York,” Collins said. “Temporarily suspending the admittance of refugees and individuals from high risk countries until we can guarantee they are properly vetted is a common sense measure focused on protecting Americans. President Trump promised to make America safe again and his executive order aims to ensure we know who is entering our country.”

Thursday, January 26, 2017 at 4:34 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, government, firefighters, health.


Press release:

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, (R-C-I, Elma) says the New York State Senate has passed a measure to help further protect the health of volunteer firefighters. The bill (S1411) expands the benefits available to volunteer firefighters when they contract certain illnesses and cancers as a result of the hazards they encounter during their duties.

“The men and women who serve our communities as volunteer firefighters deserve our support,” Gallivan said. “These brave volunteers protect our homes and businesses and face numerous potential hazards in responding to fires and other emergencies. I am proud to support legislation that expands benefits for firefighters facing health issues related to their selfless service.” 

Overexposure to smoke increases the risk of contracting cancer of the lungs, but may also cause cancer in an individual's esophagus, stomach, blood, intestines, and even the brain. A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study suggests firefighters are at higher risk of cancers of the digestive, oral, respiratory, and urinary systems when compared to the general population.

This legislation expands the existing coverage available under the Volunteer Firefighters Benefit Law to include cancer of the digestive, hematological, lymphatic, urinary, prostate, neurological, breast and reproductive systems or melanoma.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly.

Monday, January 23, 2017 at 5:41 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, government, news, Warsaw, Board of Supervisors.

During the Jan. 17 county Board of Supervisors meeting, there was some conflict over a resolution to increase "Schedule S” employee vacation time. Although in all, the resolution was to pass the Salary Schedule S Handbook amendment, which included changes to employee vacation time.

In the prior handbook, employees earned vacation time based on the number of years of service. For example, an employee who has worked up to five years earned 10 vacation days; six to 10 years, 15 days; and 11 to 15 years, 20 days. That change was made effective Jan. 1, 2014. Prior to 2014, Schedule S employees accrued 24 days per year.

“Up until three years ago, that benefit was extended to all Schedule S employees. They are a part of management and in an effort to recruit quality people for the position, we extended that (vacation) benefit,” sad Wyoming County Board Chairman Doug Berwanger. 

In 2014 there was a “cash crunch” and that vacation benefit in the package took a hit. However, over time, it proved to be a poor decision, Berwanger says. What had ended up happening was the employees who were part of the union were accruing more vacation time than their managers. 

On Tuesday’s vote, half the members of the Board agreed the change was necessary, but half of them disagreed: Sandra King, of Pike; Brian Becker, of Sheldon; Bryan Kehl, of Attica; Ellen Grant, of Bennington; Keith Granger, of Castile; Jerry Davis, of Covington; Michael Vasile, of Genesee Falls; and Vanessa McCormick, of Java.

“At a time when the county is working under financial restraints, 24 days of vacation on the first day seems excessive,” Kehl said.

Becker, who owns William G. Becker & Sons Inc. in Java, says newly hired employees know they will earn vacation time on an anniversary date (typically after a year) – “that’s just the way it is.”

Schedule S employees don’t actually earn all 24 days when they initially start, they accrue time based on the number of hours they work in a pay period – every two weeks – not to exceed a total of 24 days in a year. However, if an employee chooses not to use any vacation time for any year, it can carry over to the next, but maxes out at 12 weeks, officials say.

“There is no financial impact and it would put everyone on the same level,” said Perry Town Supervisor Jim Brick. “People were working the same amount of hours, but not getting the same number of vacation days.”

“In your career (with the county) you can only accrue 12 weeks at any given time or be paid out upon separation,” Berwanger said. “The ‘additional’ time is perceived to be a financial hardship. But in these positions, we don’t have to hire extra help to cover the time off, therefore, no additional cost. When they come back from vacation, they have their work they need to catch up on. Also, Schedule S people have an evaluation process to go through; so if they don’t get their work done, it may impact future raises.”

Yet, with the vote so evenly split, how was the resolution actually passed? It helps to understanding the vote process.

The towns are split by a weighted vote, with the most votes for the simple majority in the towns of Warsaw (201), Perry (187), Arcade (172), Attica (164), Bennington (140), Castile (123), and Sheldon (102). The town with the least amount of votes is Genesee Falls (19). Of the those that represent the most votes, only the towns of Sheldon, Castile, Bennington, and Attica voted “no” – Warsaw, Perry and Arcade voted “yea.” Voting in the remaining towns vary between 38 to 93.

To pass, the resolution needed the simple majority to vote “yea.” In Wyoming County, the simple majority is 1,599 votes – the total number of combined votes of the 16 supervisors. The resolution passed with 800.

“There are 31 departments in the county and not everyone will retire at the same time,” Berwanger said. “The big impact is the 10-percent contribution for health insurance. In 2014, anyone hired as a Schedule S employee would be responsible to pay only 10 percent of their health insurance, this had stayed intact.”

In other actions:

    • The chairman is authorized to sign the following grant acceptance awards;

    – Arts Council of Wyoming County on behalf of the Historian’s Office, to fund a county-wide Eat Your Way Through History tour;

    – Catholic Charities of Buffalo on behalf of the Office for the Aging, to provide funding for respite services to caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease; and

    – New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services on behalf of the District Attorney’s Office, to fund victim services;

    • Jake Kramell was removed as a Youth Member to the Wyoming County Youth Board;

    • Chairman authorized to sign contract with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office on behalf on the Wyoming County Jail to provide prisoner housing for Orleans County inmates; and

    • Appointments/reappointments include: 

    – Gregory J. Collins, DO, MPH, as part-time medical director; 

    – Thomas Wakefield, DMV, to the Wyoming County Board of Health; 

    – James Brick, Daniel Leuer, and Cheryl Ketchum to the Wyoming County Water Resource Agency Board of Directors; 

    – David Rumsey, Department of Social Services commissioner; and Laura Paolucci, Health Department administrator, to the 2-1-1 Advisory Board; 

    – Edwin Smart (replacing R. Crandall), and David Johnson (replacing R. Lathan), to the Wyoming County Planning Board; 

    – Undersheriff David Linder, as part-time Stop-DWI coordinator;

    – Janis Cook, as county auditor; 

    – Jerry Davis, Ellen Grant, and John Copland, as members of the Inter-county Association of Western New York, with Cheryl Ketchum and Rebecca Ryan as alternate members; and

    – HIPPA Officers include David Tallman, corporate compliance officer; Joan Kibler, privacy officer; and Todd MacConnell, IT security officer.

Friday, January 20, 2017 at 1:43 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, news, Sen. Gallivan, government, crime.


Press release:

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, (R-C-I, Elma) has been reappointed to serve as chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections. Not only has he held the position since 2013, his is also a former New York State Trooper, Sheriff of Erie County, and member of the State Board of Parole.

Additionally, he will serve as a member of twelve additional Senate committees this Legislative session including vice chair of the Senate Committee on Education.

“I am honored to serve in leadership roles on two very important Senate committees,” Gallivan said. “Beyond the public safety of our citizens, there is perhaps no more important issue for the state than to ensure a quality education for our children. I look forward to working with my colleagues in reviewing legislation and budgets pertaining to criminal justice and education matters.” 

As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which plays a critical role in the state’s budget process, his goal is to help ensure adoption of a state budget that controls the size and cost of government, as well as provides a fair distribution of resources.

Other committees which Gallivan is a member include: Agriculture, Transportation, Infrastructure and Capital Investment, Codes, Elections, Higher Education, Housing, Labor, and Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business. 

He also serves as a member of State Native American Relations Select Committee and the Science, Technology, Incubation and Entrepreneurship Select Committee.

Senate committee assignments for 2017 were announced at the start of the new Legislative session.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 12:21 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, government, fire, grants, announcements, Warsaw.

Press release:

Applications for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program for fiscal year 2016 are now being accepted. The grant program is administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Applications from eligible departments must be submitted by 5 p.m. Feb.10.

The program is designed to help local fire departments and Emergency Management Service (EMS) providers increase or maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities.

“The SAFER Grant Program delivers funding assistance to our local fire departments and EMS providers that helps recruit new members and ensure that current members are properly trained,” said Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27). “I look forward to working with this year’s applicants and I encourage all NY-27 fire departments and EMS providers to apply.”

Interested applicants with further questions or those seeking letters of support from Congressman Collins are asked to call his Geneseo District Office at (585) 519-4002.

Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Wyoming County has a contract with Waste Management for curbside collection for several towns and villages, which county officials say proves to be “quite a bit cheaper” as a “huge collective” contract vs. individually.

For 2017, the annual cost is approximately $237 for year-round residents, up slightly – $2 to $3 – from 2016. The seasonal rate is approximately $187. Additionally, residents do not have to purchase Waste Management cans or bins for recyclables.

The collection schedule is as follows:

    • Monday – Town and Village of Perry and Old Orchard Beach and Fairview roads, Silver Lake;

    • Tuesday – Town and Village of Gainesville, Village of Silver Springs, and Town and Village of Castile;

    • Wednesday – towns of Orangeville, Sheldon, and Wethersfield;

    • Thursday – Village of Wyoming, Town of Middlebury, and Town and Village of Warsaw; and

    • Friday – Genesee Falls, and the towns of Pike and Eagle.

If your collection day falls on or follows the following holidays during that week –  New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas – collection will be one day later.

Garbage should be placed within 5 feet of the road, before 6 a.m. on your pickup day. The equivalent of five bags or cans of normal residential garbage, including garden and yard waste, will be picked up weekly. Only one large item will be picked up each week.

Recyclables will be collected on the same day, possibly in separate trucks and at different times during the day. All recyclable material should be placed in a separate receptacle marked “recyclable.”

For more information email or visit

Wednesday, January 4, 2017 at 6:13 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, government, Warsaw, Gainesville, Perry, Wethersfield.

Public safety, economic successes, and hospital funding were all noted as “milestones” for the county in 2016, said Wyoming County Board of Supervisors Chairman Doug Berwanger.

Although Berwanger took a look back at the county government for 2016 he also said the Board of Supervisors is looking to build on those accomplishments for 2017.

The chairman gave the state-of-the-county address during the annual organizational meeting Tuesday, which included:

    • Opening the Wyoming County Ag and Business Center at 36 Center St., Warsaw. 

The center is home to several county departments and contract agencies and is a “model for intergovernmental and interdepartmental efficiencies.”

“The center fulfills the vision as one-stop shopping for the county’s major economic drivers in agriculture and the vast array of businesses within the county’s borders,” Berwanger said. “The creation of the center was a collaboration of state, county and private investment, which ultimately proves that a positive result can happen with open dialogue and clear goals.”

The Ag Center is home to Cornell Cooperative Extension, USDA Soil and Water, USDA Farm Service Agency, the NYS Quality Production Service, the Cornell University Veterinary Lab, the Planning Department, Building Codes and Enforcement Department, Wyoming County’s Water Resource Agency, IDA (Industrial Development Agency), Business Center, Business Education Council, and Chamber and Tourism.

“All of these departments are now enjoying the synergies and efficiencies which were envisioned when this project was first spoke of.”

    • $20 million awarded to Wyoming County Community Hospital (WCCH) from the State of New York.

“This is the largest amount of single funding in the county’s history. The hospital (WCCH) is one of three county hospitals in New York State.”

Funding for the $33 million capital campaign – from 2013 through 2015 – for renovations to WCCH included $9 million in grants, and $5 million raised from the Capitol One campaign, of which $2.7 million was donated by the residents of Wyoming County. This left $18 million for the county to borrow with an annual loan payment of $1.3 million over the next 20 years.

“The $20 million will defuse that debt over a period of time along with other capital investments and bonds which the health system is ultimately responsible for.”

Officials say the $20 million grant will save the taxpayers $1.3 million in levy per year for the next 20 years. This equates to a 6.5-percent reduction in the county levy.

“The hospital continues to serve the health and well being of the residents of Wyoming County, treating 13,000 patients annually. That’s 11,000 patients a month; 137 patients a day. That is an astounding number for a small rural hospital.”

Additionally, the hospital lab processes 190,000 tests and 29,100 radiology exams annually. More than 35 percent of the county’s population uses the emergency room on an annual basis. 

“It points to the fact the hospital is vital to the residents of the county, and surrounding areas that do not have access to emergency health care.” 

Berwanger also noted the skilled nursing facility’s continuing care for the county’s elderly and people needing specific treatment and rehab services. 

Currently, the facility has 136 beds filled. 

In addition to the funding WCCH received, the hospital has 650 full- and part-time, and per diem employees – of which 80 percent are county residents – who in turn, stimulate the local economy.

“The board of managers – through hospital CEO Don Eichenauer – continue their discussions with larger health systems in an effort to maximize services that only larger hospitals can provide. 

“At present, the University of Rochester Strong Hospital is providing a variety of these services such as: emergency room doctors, an ear nose and throat specialist, cardiac specialist, and OB physician relief – pharmacy and finance officer being the most prominent physicians. Additionally, Buffalo Orthopedic continues to provide the county with quality orthopedic services as well.

“The Board of Supervisors recognizes the importance of the hospital and continues to support the hospital financially.”

    • $12 million to finish the Better Pavement Program.

This past summer and fall, both the Perry Road in Java/Sheldon and Exchange Street in the towns of Orangeville and Attica, were resurfaced as part of the program. 

Roads that need to be rebuilt include Simmons Road in the Town of Perry, Telegraph Road in the towns of Pike and Eagle, and Starr Road in the Town of Covington. Additionally, the funding will also provide for the completion of Liberty Street in the Town of Warsaw and Jefferson Street in the Village.

“This roadwork is coordinated and directed by County Highway Superintendent Todd Gadd. When I spoke with him recently, he spoke about the many road and bridge projects over the years. When these projects are finished, it will mark the completion of rebuilding all the county roads over the last 20 years, at a total cost of $20 million.”

    • Public Safety.

“Sheriff Greg Rudolf and Undersheriff Dave Linder are responsible for the safety of the 43,000 residents of Wyoming County,” Berwanger said, “The number of calls to dispatch is increasing annually, making it a challenge to provide the assistance our residents deserve. The Board of Supervisors recognizes the mission of the (Sheriff’s) department and continues to be supportive.

“In the world we live in today, I do not believe the county can spend too much on law enforcement. The county’s 2017 budget shows an appropriation of funds to hire one full-time deputy.”

In addition to the Sheriff’s Department, the Wyoming County Emergency Services Department is responsible in coordinating the efforts between the  – “unsung and unpaid heroes of Wyoming County” – the 800 volunteer firefighters who respond to the 5,000 fire, ambulance and rescue calls annually.

“These volunteers save the county taxpayers tens of millions of dollars every year. On behalf of the Board of Supervisors, thank you for your work.”

    • The economic successes of the county include agriculture and manufacturing.

Wyoming County leads the state with 700 farms that produce $326 million in whole ag sales, Berwanger says. Additionally, the county produces 1.1 billion pounds of milk (equal to 129.5 million gallons) and is number one statewide in the production of milk, potatoes, hay, honey and corn silage.

There are 230,000 acres of land under cultivation and 147,000 cows with a total cattle worth of $140 million.

“Connected to all this, our local farmers have reached the retail marketplace. Farms such as McCormack Farms in Wethersfield with their connection with Wise Potato Chips; Marquart Farms in Gainesville with their production of the New York Chips brand, and East Hill Creamery with their cheese-making facility in Perry – these companies are helping to solidify Wyoming County’s position and reputation as a number one agricultural county in New York State.”

Berwanger also noted Upstate Door, Warsaw; Drasgow Industries, Wethersfield; and Hillcrest Industries, Attica, all manufacturing businesses created by Wyoming County residents. Additionally, they employ county residents when given the opportunity.

With the aforementioned milestones reached, Berwanger says the Board is continually working on county budgeting challenges “to provide the services its residents rightly deserve.” However, he also noted the unfunded state mandates continues to exceed 100 percent of the county’s property taxes.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017 at 6:09 pm

Press release:

Individuals who hold a Pistol/Revolver License can now recertify their license as required under state law. The State Police have created an “easy online process” that will allow licensees to complete their recertification by visiting There is no cost for recertification. 

Licensees who do not wish to use the online process can download a form from the website or visit any State Police station where paper forms will also be available.

Recent changes to New York State Penal Law require license holders to recertify every five years. Individuals who were issued a Pistol /Revolver License before Jan. 15, 2013, must recertify by Jan. 31, 2018.The deadline to recertify for those issued a license on or after Jan. 15, 2013, is five years from the date the license was issued.  

Failure to recertify will serve as a basis for revocation of the license.

As part of the recertification process, licensees must affirm that they are not prohibited from possessing firearms under state and federal law, and must also confirm certain personal information, as well as provide details about the pistols and/or revolvers they own.

Pistol/Revolver License holders who live in New York City, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties are not required to recertify through this process. Each of these municipalities already requires license holders to renew or recertify their license on a periodic basis.

Monday, January 2, 2017 at 1:35 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, crime, Warsaw, government.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vetoed a bill (S.8114 and A.10706) that would have required the State of New York to gradually assume the costs of providing constitutionally mandated legal representation to indigent criminal defendants.

The bill was approved by the state Legislature with unanimous, bipartisan support. It called for a seven-year phase-in of state assumption of the costs, now largely borne by county governments.

Had the bill passed, county officials say residents could have seen an estimated $100,000 in additional revenue to offset the cost – once the bill became fully effective.

In a statement, New York State Bar Association President Claire P. Gutekunst said:

"We are disappointed by the governor's veto. Sponsors Sen. John DeFrancisco and Assemblywoman Patricia Fahey crafted a thoughtful bill that had widespread support from county governments, the legal community and community organizations.

"The State Bar Association's priority continues to be enactment of a law to ensure that New York's public criminal defense system provides meaningful legal representation to all indigent criminal defendants in New York, in accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright (1963).

"We hope to work with the governor and Legislature to accomplish that goal early in the new year."

See related: Passage of indigent defense bill would have ‘significant’ impact on WyCo;s bottom line

Thursday, December 29, 2016 at 3:38 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, crime, government, Warsaw, budget.

If Gov. Andrew Cuomo passes the Indigent Defense Bill, Wyoming County residents could see an estimated $100,000 in additional revenue to offset the cost – once the bill is fully effective.

The New York State Bar Association President Claire P. Gutekunst recently urged the governor to sign a bill (S.8114) requiring the state government to assume the costs of providing indigent criminal defense services. The cost of public defense, currently financed by county governments, will be phased in over a seven-year period.

“The bill in front of the Governor outlines a slow and fairly steady State reimbursement structure for the counties to provide quality legal defense to the indigent,” said Wyoming County Reimbursement and Budget Administrator Janis A. Cook. “That reimbursement will slowly increase over a seven-year period to 100-percent reimbursement of all indigent defense effective 2023.”

The adopted 2017 reflects a levy of $407,000. If this was in effect for the 2017 budget, Cook says, it would have reduced the levy increase by roughly half a percent.

"This measure represents a major advance in providing quality legal representation to low-income criminal defendants, as required by the U.S. Constitution," Gutekunst said.

Ultimately, if this is passed and adhered to without changes or cuts in the future, it would be a significant impact to the county’s bottom line. 

Founded in 1876, the 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016 at 10:48 am

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C- I, Elma) says measures to help New Yorkers battling heroin and opioid addiction, ensure access to benefits that help veterans and infants, protect consumers, and increase government transparency are among the new laws that take effect in January. 

Other changes being enacted in the New Year include several road safety measures, new and extended tax cuts, and measures to increase breast cancer screenings and organ donation registration.

“This important legislation will benefit consumers, assist our veterans, support New York’s farmers and better protect public health and safety,” Gallivan said. “Changes in New York tax law will also benefit small business and make it easier for families to save for college.”

Protecting public health

Tackling heroin and opioid addiction: Most of the provisions of the legislation passed to address the state’s ongoing heroin and opioid abuse crisis took effect when signed into law in June. However, several important provisions of the laws will become effective with health insurance policies and contracts issued, renewed, modified, altered or amended on or after Jan. 1, including:

    • S8139 – Ending prior insurance authorization for immediate access to inpatient treatment services; co-sponsored by Gallivan;

    • S8137  – Using consistent criteria to determine the medical necessity of treatments; co-sponsored by Gallivan;

    • S8137 – Authorizing emergency substance use disorder medication coverage by requiring insurance coverage, without prior authorization, for an emergency five-day supply of medications for treating a substance use disorder when emergency conditions exist;

    • S8137 – Expanding access to naloxone/opioid reversal medication coverage by requiring insurance coverage for the overdose reversal medication, whether it is prescribed to a person who is addicted to opioids or their family member covered under the same insurance plan;

  • Improving infant coverage under Child Health Plus (CHP): S6421A – A new law updates the state’s Public Health Law to ensure that newborns are covered retroactively under the CHP program. Newborns were not eligible under the previous requirements of CHP for periods lasting up to 30 days after enrollment. Starting in January, newborns will be covered going back to the first day of their birth month;
  • Encouraging New Yorkers to Become Organ Donors: S6952A – Starting Jan. 1, New Yorkers will be offered an additional opportunity to document their decision to enroll as an organ and tissue donor. All applicants for health insurance offered through the state health benefit exchange will be provided space during the application process to register for the Donate Life Registry for organ, eye, and tissue donations;
  • Promoting Breast Cancer Screening: S8093 – To further encourage and ensure access to regular screening and early detection, a new law allows New York City public employees to take up to four hours of excused leave per year for breast cancer screening. This will give them the same opportunity to get screened as public employees in the rest of the state. 

Support for veterans

    • Hire-A-Vet tax credit: The 2016-17 budget extended the tax credit from Jan. 1 to Jan. 1, 2019. The period of eligible employment for qualified veterans is also extended from Jan. 1, 2016 to Jan. 1, 2018. 

The credit is provided to any business that hires a veteran, on a full-time basis for at least one year, returning home from military service. It is equal to 10 percent of wages paid, with a maximum of $5,000 per veteran. The credit increases to 15 percent of wages if the veteran is also disabled, with a maximum of $15,000 per disabled veteran.

    • S7983B – Ensuring veterans receive the benefits to which they’re entitled: Legislation was enacted to require local Social Services districts and not-for-profit agencies that receive state funding to ask as to whether a person, or any member of his or her family, has served in the U.S. military, when applying for Social Services. If so, they would be provided with contract information for the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs in order to ensure that the individual is receiving all of the benefits to which he or she is entitled. 

Support for farmers

Farm Workforce Retention tax credit: The 2016-17 budget included provisions to allow eligible farm employers to claim a refundable tax credit for each farm employee that is employed for 500 or more hours each year for tax years beginning on Jan. 1. The credit is equal to $250 per employee in 2017.

Increasing government transparency

Board of Regents meetings: S6503 – A new law that took effect Dec. 8, requires the Board of Regents to give notice of the time, place, and agenda of all public meetings of the Board and any committee, subcommittee, task force or other subgroup seven days before a scheduled meeting. This will allow the stakeholders on several educational issues the appropriate time to respond and discuss the issues. Additionally, it would encourage more involvement from the public and would foster an improved dialogue between both the Board of Regents and other stakeholders in education. 

Reforming the regulatory process: Two new laws taking effect Jan. 1 help make the state’s regulation process more transparent:

    • S7097 requires a proposed or revised rule or another regulatory document’s full text to be posted on the applicable state agency’s website. No web posting is currently required for a revised rule – even if the text has been extensively revised – or for regulatory impact statements, job impact statements, or flexibility analyses for small businesses, local governments, or rural areas; and

    • S7098 requires the full text of every emergency rule to be readily available to the public, either through publication in the State Register or posting on the applicable state agency’s website. It is particularly important for regulated parties and the public to obtain timely access to rules that require immediate adoption through an emergency rulemaking process.

Consumer protections and assistance

New insurance rate reductions for homeowners: A new law enacted as part of the 2016-17 budget allows homeowners to receive a rate reduction for fire insurance, homeowners’ insurance, or property/casual premiums for residential property. The law applies if the owner completes a homeowner course in natural disaster preparedness, home safety, and loss prevention.

Fish labeling accuracy: S6842B – A new law requires that any fish sold as “white tuna” must be from an albacore tuna, long fin tuna, or from a tuna species. Beginning on Jan. 7, oilfish or escolar will no longer be permitted to be labeled as “white tuna.” 

Consumer notification about auto repairs paid by insurance companies: S5639A – A new law that takes effect Jan. 17 requires insurance companies to include a disclosure in repair estimates that informs insured motorists of the right to have their vehicle repaired in a shop of their choice. 

Consumer notification about real estate transactions: S7248 – A new law promotes consumer protection by requiring real estate licensees to, upon the licensee’s initial renewal, have two hours of instruction particularly relating to the law of agency. Thereafter, such license renewal would require at least one hour of instruction in the law of agency, providing real estate professionals with continuing education to help ensure a full understanding by the consumer of the roles agency relationships play in real estate transactions. 

Preventing “zombie” homes: S8159 – Part Q of this law takes effect Dec. 20 and requires certain banks that originate or own mortgages to secure and maintain one- to four-family residential properties which are deemed to be vacant and abandoned. This part requires the Department of Financial Services to maintain a statewide vacant and abandoned property registry for the tracking of such properties. This part also requires banks to provide to homeowners a clear notice of a homeowners’ rights during the foreclosure process. 

Improving road safety:

Move-Over Law expansion: S7938 – Starting Jan. 17, the Move-Over Law includes more types of emergency vehicles. The law requires motorists to slow down and move over when passing authorized emergency vehicles pulled over on the side of the road. To increase safety, the law now includes any vehicle displaying a blue or green light, such as volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance workers involved in roadside emergency operations. 

Window tint compliance: S6034A – Starting Jan. 1, the state will require vehicles’ window tint to be examined during a yearly New York State safety inspection. If the glass on a vehicle is tinted beyond 30 percent of light transmittance, then that vehicle would not pass the inspection. The window tint would have to be removed or altered for the vehicle to pass. The new law is a more proactive approach intended to protect law enforcement and other drivers, as darkly tinted windows hinder their ability to see inside the vehicle. 

Tax changes

Business tax cut: In 2014, the Senate succeeded in overhauling and simplifying the State Corporate Franchise Tax, which incorporated banks into the new combined code. As part of that reform, the capital base calculation rate for manufacturers will be reduced to 0.085 percent, and other corporate franchise tax payers will be reduced to 0.1 percent starting Jan. 1.

Clean heating fuel tax credit: The 2016-17 budget extended the Clean Heating Fuel Tax Credit from Jan. 1 until Jan. 1, 2020. It also requires that beginning in 2017, to qualify for the credit, each gallon of clean heating fuel must be at least 6 percent biodiesel. The credit is equal to $0.01 per percent of biodiesel mixed into home heating oil, not to exceed $0.20 per gallon.

Making It Easier to Save For College: S6942 – Taxpayers can elect to contribute all or a portion of a personal income tax refund to a 529 college savings account starting Jan. 1. Under existing law, individuals wishing to invest funds into a New York State 529 College Savings Program can deposit funds via electronic bank transfer, check, payroll deduction if available, or by a rollover from another college savings account. Allowing taxpayers to directly deposit a minimum of $25 from their income tax refunds into such accounts will increase opportunities for taxpayers to invest in existing savings plans and help defray the ever increasing costs associated with higher education. 

Permanent Extension of the Non-Custodial Parent Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): The Non- Custodial Parent EITC was set to expire Dec. 31 but this year’s budget extended it permanently. In order to qualify for this refundable credit, the non-custodial parent must: be over the age of 18, have a court order to make child support payments, and be current on those child support payments. In addition, the enhanced EITC is only authorized for noncustodial parents who meet the income threshold for a single taxpayer with no children.

Extension of the Tax Credit for Companies Who Provide Transportation to Individuals with Disabilities: This year’s budget extended the credit for companies who provide transportation to individuals with disabilities from Jan. 1 until Jan. 1, 2022. The credit is equal to the incremental cost to upgrade or purchase a taxicab or livery vehicle that is handicap accessible, up to $10,000 per vehicle.

Tax Return Due Date Changes: The state budget conformed New York State tax filing dates for corporations and partnerships to federal tax law, which was recently amended. The corporate tax return deadline will be moved from Mar. 15 to Apr. 15 and the partnership information statement deadline will be moved from Apr. 15 to Mar. 15. These provisions take effect for taxable years beginning on or after Jan. 1.

Friday, December 23, 2016 at 4:53 pm


Press release (photo from Congressman Collins' website):

Schoolchildren in Wyoming County were among the students in New York’s 27th Congressional District to send more than 2,000 holiday cards to troops serving at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and abroad. The cards are due to be delivered before Christmas Day.

Students from Perry, Warsaw and Wyoming central school districts not only sent cards, but also personalized letters and creative crafts as part of Congressman Chris Collins office’s annual Holiday Mail for Troops project.

“Our annual Holiday Mail for Troops project is a great opportunity for our community to show its support for the service men and women who will be away from their loved ones during the holidays,” Collins said. “Thank you to all of the students, teachers, businesses, and community advocates who helped send over 2,000 holiday cards to the men and women serving at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.”

Each year, Congressman Collins’ office reaches out to all NY-27 elementary schools to join together to show appreciation during the holiday season for the service members located at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. In addition to the Wyoming County students, kids from Depew, Hamburg, Colden, North Tonawanda, Eden, Orchard Park, Elma, Lima, Niagara Falls, Batavia, Kendall, Mount Morris, Geneva, East Pembroke, Barker, Albion, Victor, Sanborn, Buffalo and York elementary schools participated in the project.

For pictures of some of the 2,000 cards Collins’ office collected this year, visit the office’s Flickr album:


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