Wheatfield to seek state approval for local development corporation - The Buffalo News
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Wheatfield to seek state approval for local development corporation

WHEATFIELD – The Town Board voted Monday to ask the state to approve creation of a local development corporation that can be used to lend money to businesses in the town.

Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe said the only step remaining is Albany’s approval of Wheatfield Local Development Corp., since the Town Board approved a list of directors Monday.

However, he said he didn’t know if the process would take “one month or six months.”

Cliffe and Councilman Larry L. Helwig are the elected officials on the board. Other members include Planning Board Chairman Richard W. Muscatello; Lawrence D. Witul, retired assistant director of the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency; William Wagner, a business owner and chairman of the town’s Business Development Focus Group; Sharon DiPasquale of Niagara’s Choice Federal Credit Union; Victor Montalbo, chief financial officer of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission; Joshua P. Heim, a community banking specialist at M&T Bank; and Dawn I. Gilliam, chief financial officer at Calamar, the town’s largest development firm.

“I think this is an outstanding list of directors,” Town Attorney Robert J. O’Toole said.

He said the directors’ first job will be to seek grant funding to stake the corporation to a pool of money to carry out its goal, which is to help businesses that want to expand, open or move into the town.

However, Cliffe said grants cannot be sought until the state approves the formation of the corporation.

Also Monday, the board approved a one-year, $20,000 contract with the SPCA for collecting and harboring stray dogs. The contract is about $3,500 more than this year’s, but Cliffe said there’s a chance it may be the last contract.

“The SPCA is looking very hard at themselves still, and may not be having dog control” in 2015, Cliffe said.

Also, the board saluted Councilman Kenneth Retzlaff at his last meeting. He is retiring after 32 years on the board, the last 16 as deputy supervisor.

“Kenny was the man with compassion on the board,” Helwig said. “You’d get residents coming in, yelling at you and swearing at you. Kenny kept his head on his shoulders and kept the board together.”

“He’s always been positive,” Councilman Gilbert Doucet said.

“Of all the all the folks I’ve known in politics, you’re the one I respect most,” Cliffe said as he presented Retzlaff with a congratulatory proclamation.

“I’m almost speechless,” said Retzlaff, who is being succeeded by his nephew, Randy Retzlaff. “I’m grateful to the residents of the Town of Wheatfield. I’m grateful I worked with a great Town Board.”

Also Monday, the board appropriated $56,330 to buy two equipment storage buildings from TNT Builders: one for Fairmount Park and the other to be placed beside the Youth Center. Cliffe said a major purpose of the latter building will be to hold the Wheatfield cheerleaders’ gym mats.

The board also rehired Rotella Grants Management as the town’s grant-writing firm, at a price of $9,600 a year for an unlimited number of grants.

Cliffe said Bernie Rotella of that firm was being paid $6,000 a year plus 2 percent of all grants. He sought to double the fee, but backed off a bit once there was a bid process. He also gave up the 2 percent commission, except for grants previously approved but not yet fully received.

O’Toole said the former TVGA engineering firm, now called KHEOPS, bid $9,000, but that would have covered only four grants. The company wanted to be paid $2,500 for each additional application, and the town rejected that notion.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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