The Cheektowaga Town Board called for a probe of this winter's sky-high heating costs Monday night, saying some residents have to choose between paying their gas bill and buying food or medicine.
The board unanimously approved a multipoint resolution asking authorities to investigate "why gas prices have risen so dramatically, without impact (on) utility company profits or . . . management bonuses."
The measure also asks for federal regulation of the wholesale cost of natural gas, federal consumer subsidies during "dramatic unforeseen cold spells" and intensified efforts by suppliers to locate new supplies and stabilize prices.
Officials said the resolution will be go to Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, both D-N.Y.; Rep. Jack F. Quinn Jr., R-Hamburg; State Sen. William T. Stachowski, D-Buffalo, and Assemblyman Paul A. Tokasz, D-Cheektowaga.
Cheektowaga Council Member Patricia A. Jaworowicz, a co-sponsor of the measure, said a region trying "to stave off the exodus of young families to the Sun Belt" doesn't need still another reason for people to leave.
But that's what it gets when "young families have to choose between putting food on the table and paying their gas bill, when our elderly have to choose between buying medicine and paying their gas bill," she said.
Council Member James J. Jankowiak, the resolution's other co-sponsor, agreed. "When you can't even afford to turn your heat on, . . . that drives people from Western New York," he said.
"We need help for our people, and we need it now," Jaworowicz said.
In other business, the board promised angry neighbors from the William Street-Cayuga Creek Road area that they will make a developer finish landscaping and related work on a condominium project before going ahead with senior citizens housing.
But the neighbors were skeptical, saying they heard the same promises a year ago. "We don't believe you," one said loudly.
The issue involved developer David Manko's plan to build an 84-unit assisted-living residence at 2911 William St., across from Park Lane Plaza and in front of the Liberty Park apartments and Brookfield condominiums.
The residence will offer 60 assisted-living units for about $1,800 a month and 24 units for people with memory impairments renting for about $2,800 a month, Manko said. The rents include all meals, utilities, housekeeping, laundry and activities.
Several speakers blasted Manko for delays in his projects and not finishing landscaping and drainage work outside the Brookfield development, leaving adjoining properties a mess for a year or more.
"I've got a lake back there," an Cayuga Creek Road man yelled. "This man's got more excuses than Carter's got liver pills."
Manko explained that his projects had encountered various bureaucratic delays and other setbacks.
But he claimed that he did try to do the property maintenance work his neighbors claimed he didn't. At any rate, after a year's delay on the assisted-living residence, "the financing is in place, and we're ready to proceed forward with construction," Manko told the board.
But first, Council Member Thomas M. Johnson Jr. said the board wants to know -- in writing -- when Manko plans to finish the landscaping and other work at the Brookfield condominiums.
"We'll have the lawyer draw something up," Manko replied.
Officials also will check the original list of project conditions to see that all have been fulfilled, Johnson warned.