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City Council will continue to tackle 2 tough issues

The City Council will hold its third meeting in two weeks today as it continues to wrestle with two controversial issues, recreation and ambulance service.

The operation of city-owned Dwyer Stadium could be assured if the Council wants to accept a last-minute offer from the Genesee County Baseball Club.

The only hitch for a Council that acts slowly is a Friday deadline to accept or reject the club's offer to assume more than $100,000 in debt and take over stadium operations. Action is unlikely since the Council often takes months to resolve less complicated issues.

The 10-year-old $3 million ballpark has been operated by Batavia Regional Recreation Corp., partly with a city subsidy of $30,000, which was cut during the last fiscal year's budget crisis.

The baseball club owns the Batavia Muckdogs, an entry in the New York-Penn Class A League. The franchise could be worth $5 million, according to a club official, because of interest in minor league clubs.

The offer was made last week during a conference session. Council members made no commitment and had few comments. The stadium also is used for high school and college sports.

A more expensive and critical issue is the city Fire Department's ambulance service for the entire county, a service that lost $1 million in recent years, most of it from nonpayment for transporting noncity residents. A collection agency is trying to collect the losses.

The Council five weeks ago ordered the city manager to begin negotiations with 11 municipalities whose contracts expire at the end of the year for annual payments based on ambulance use and population.

Jason R. Molino began discussions, but Alabama Town Supervisor Guy T. Hinkson, who chairs the Genesee Association of Municipalities, asked for a "few months delay." He contended that the towns and villages need time to assume the cost of a service that had been free or to seek other options.

The costs range from $727 for the Village of Elba to $19,000 for the Town of Batavia. The goal is to raise $100,000 each year for the purchase of a new ambulance as equipment wears out.

The Council agreed at a conference session last week to grant a three-month extension to permit negotiations to continue. Letters are going out today offering an extension until March 31.

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