Weekly Feature



2011-05-26 / Local News

Lucachik to Town Board: ‘I’ve had enough of ... backroom politics’

by KIMBERLY MCDOWELL Editor

Two weeks ago, the West Seneca Town Board granted a special permit for Waste Management to develop its property on Ransier Road.

Board members went into an executive session, away from the public, and reconvened to ultimately approve the permit. The meeting was adjourned shortly thereafter.

Not knowing exactly what was discussed in that executive session hasn’t fared well with at least one resident.

During Monday night’s meeting, Karen Lucachik of Greenmeadow Drive accused the three-member board of violating the state’s Open Meetings Law during its May 9 meeting.

“In order to maintain a democratic society, public business is to be performed in an open and public manner,” said Lucachik, paraphrasing the Department of State’s language on the law. “Citizens of a democracy should elect leaders committed to democracy and [the] Open Meetings Law.”

Lucachik, who is often vocal in criticizing the Town Board, noted that the three members — Supervisor Wallace Piotrowski and Council Members Sheila Meegan and Dale Clarke — are each running for an elected position in town government.

She alluded that residents deserve more from those who are both currently in office as well as seeking re-election.

According to the DOS, an executive session may be conducted for reasons such as a matter that will imperil the public safety if disclosed; information relating to current or future prosecutions of a criminal offense; and discussions regarding proposed, pending or current litigation.

Meegan spoke in defense of the board by saying the members had “legal conversations” in the executive session during the May 9 meeting.

She said the only additional conversation was relating to her concern for the tax status of WM’s property, which she had discussed openly at that meeting. She later told The Bee that the company’s tax status is, in fact, in good standing with the town.

“Any information you have should be discussed in front of the public,” Lucachik reiterated. “I’ve had enough of the backroom politics.”

Piotrowski said outside of the meeting that he wasn’t clear on what Lucachik meant by that accusation. He also said the board does a fair job with discussing things in an open manner with the public.

“When you analyze an entire year ... 98 percent of the time we’re unanimous,” the supervisor said. “There’s not a lot of room for disagreements between the board members ... residents know what we disagree on, and we’re open about it.”

“None of us are afraid to express our opinions,” he added.

Also during Monday night’s meeting, Meegan requested that the board approve a new contract with I-Evolve, a technology services company based in Buffalo.

The agreement would involve the company moving the town’s server computer off-site; it currently takes up space in the former comptroller’s office. That office has since moved to the Burchfield Nature & Art Center. Additionally, moving the server out of Town Hall would free up space for the eventual expansion of the Police Department.

Also included in the agreement for the server would be complete maintenance of the town’s private computer network, as well as having the server in a fire-safe area and stronger security for data.

The total cost for the agreement would be $2,189 per month.

Meegan said the town was initially working on a lower-cost agreement with Verizon; however, the company later reneged on its offer and increased the fees by more than $1,000 per month. That bill would have totaled roughly $3,000 per month.

“This is a huge savings to the town,” she said.

Piotrowski said Monday night that this was the first he’s heard of the agreement, so the board opted to table the item until its next meeting.

In another matter, the board approved a renewal agreement with the Town of Elma to share assessor services.

This position is currently held by Kandace S. Whittmeyer, who formerly served as the sole assessor for Elma. She began dividing her 40-hour work week equally between the towns in April 2010 when the first year-to-year agreement was signed.

The move was said to cost West Seneca, or save Elma, roughly $36,000 annually.

On behalf of Whittmeyer, who reportedly was unaware that the renewal agreement was on Monday night’s agenda, Meegan said the assessor would like to hold an information session to discuss the duties of her position with the public. This has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 6, at Town Hall, 1250 Union Road. This will occur before the board’s regular meeting at 7 p.m.

Other scheduled meetings include:

A work session to further discuss the town’s sewer issues at 6 p.m. Monday, June 20, at Town Hall. This will occur before the board’s regular meeting at 7 p.m.

An information session to discuss the town’s Engineering Department at noon on Friday, July 8, at the West Seneca Senior Citizens Center, 4620 Seneca St. email: kmcdowell@beenews.com

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