"Win-win" or "no-win" was a matter of perspective Monday night as the West Seneca Town Board voted to authorize a settlement with the Nichols & Vann Co. over the placement of several billboards along the Route 400 expressway.
The town, faced with losing a court case after turning down several billboards last spring, OK'd a settlement that would allow the company to put up four of the six billboards it was contesting in court, with the town also receiving around $60,000 from Nichols & Vann.
Assistant Town Attorney William Bond said he looked at it as a win-win situation, since Nichols & Vann would make concessions -- agreeing not to put ads for "adult usages" on the signs and giving the town the money -- in exchange for being allowed to proceed with the billboards this fall.
"We're not giving them anything they couldn't get in three-four more months," Bond said. "All they're gaining really by this is time. They're getting it done before the (construction) season ends.
"They're aware that even if they won, we could make an appeal that would cost them time and money and delay them."
He said the company's new proposal would meet standards imposed by a proposed new billboard ordinance that is expected to be passed this fall. The enactment of the ordinance would end a moratorium on billboard applications that had followed a flurry of them early in the year.
Nichols & Vann would have been able to reapply under the new ordinance and get the billboards OK'd then.
Councilman Chris Osmanski, who had voted against the billboards on aesthetic grounds, voiced his disappointment with having to allow the billboards, however.
"It's a no-win situation," he said. "We're trying to make the best of the situation. Our court case is most likely unwinnable. And in the end, even if we won, the developer could come in the day after and apply under our new ordinance and put four of them in.
"So we've reached a compromise where they'll give the town this sum of money that we can plan on using for other costs the town may have."
In other moves:
The Town Board passed a resolution raising the pay for ice rink workers by $1.35 an hour -- if they don't miss a shift the entire season. If they do, the pay increase is 85 cents an hour. The plan is intended to cut down on overtime and to help keep more long-term employees, including more skilled ones to handle duties such as operating the Zamboni ice-making machine.
Wages will rise to $7 an hour for more skilled workers and $6.50 for regular workers. But that's only if they make every shift. If they miss a shift, the pay goes down to $6.50 and $6, respectively. The extra 50 cents an hour would be paid at the end of the season.
"We could have just given them the raise up front," said Councilman Vince Graber Jr. "But we said, 'they have to earn that bonus.' Once the word gets out that the wages are higher and it's a good job, we envision where there'll be people waiting in line to do it."
Graber reported West Seneca has saved $15,000 in six months since the town ended a maintenance contract on Police Department cars with an outside company and created a town position for a mechanic.
"Typically out in the corporate world, everyone believes 'get rid of the workers and contract things out,' " Graber said. "As it turned out in this particular case, we actually lowered our wages, from $55 an hour down (under the maintenance contract) to $19 an hour. And we also saved on parts."
The board approved $73,220 in additional spending for the Burchfield Park project. Most of the spending was necessitated when the town rebid the project with a different design, a move that brought in bids about $200,000 lower than the original plans.