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Batavia Council tackles key issues

The City Council is wrestling with two major decisions, both controversial, as it prepares to seat two new members and switch to a 5-4 Democratic majority and a new Council president.

The issues -- the consolidation of police dispatchers with an information system and the awarding of a contract for waste collection and disposal -- were discussed Tuesday in a conference session, and a special meeting was scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.

The Genesee County Sheriff's Office's new administration building, which opened two months ago, has the capacity to consolidate dispatch services for the county, the city and the village of Le Roy.

A study shows that the financial benefits would outweigh additional costs. However, city police want to stay at their present location downtown with easy access to walk-ins and emergencies. They also contend that there would be a loss of up to 1,300 hours in patrols.

Genesee ARC has held the unique contract -- said to be the only one in the state -- for refuse and recycling collections since 1983. A separate contract with Waste Management is for disposal.

Some people believe that the city should seek bids against Genesee ARC's contract of more than $1 million a year. However, if ARC loses, 20 local employees with disabilities would be out of work.

Although no vote is scheduled, a standing-room-only crowd of supporters -- including 16 speakers -- urged a renewal of the contract.

In a regular business session Tuesday, the Council:

* Approved replacing a traffic signal at Washington and Bank streets with four-way stop signs. The signal does not meet federal and state standards, and a replacement would cost $80,000. A similar switch was made last month at Washington and Ross streets with no apparent problems.

* Amended a solid-waste ordinance to allow the inclusion of heavy items and construction waste in the residential refuse-collection service. Officials believe that this might make it easier for home-improvement projects that generate large amounts of refuse.

* Approved a measure to put Police Chief Darryl D. Sehm in the right retirement plan to make up for earlier problems with misdirected payments.

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