Lockport police pressed into service for Albany trip - The Buffalo News

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Lockport police pressed into service for Albany trip

LOCKPORT – Having Lockport’s emergency borrowing bill passed by the State Legislature required someone experienced in emergencies to save the day after the city’s first shipment of paperwork proved inadequate.

A police officer was sent down the Thruway to the State Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, after City Treasurer Michael E. White was told on his arrival in Albany earlier in the day that the city’s home rule form, requesting $5.35 million in bond authorization, had been filled out incorrectly.

Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey said the city followed the instructions it was given by a State Senate staffer for completing the form for the home rule request, only to find the staffer had prechecked the wrong box, and that meant an error was made in the signatures.

Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said the city had been sent the form Tuesday, in advance of the Common Council’s vote that night to request permission for a 10-year bond issue to pay off the city’s last three years of accumulated deficits and avoid possibly running out of cash this summer.

City Clerk Richelle J. Pasceri prepared the mandated eight copies of the Council resolution – four for the Assembly, four for the Senate – and signed the accompanying form in two places, as the instructions from the Senate said.

But when White arrived in Albany after driving across the state Wednesday morning, he was told that Pasceri should have signed it only once and McCaffrey was supposed to have signed the other space.

Ottaviano said the form has an alternative box to check, indicating whether the city’s chief executive officer approves of the request or not. If she does, she is supposed to sign, too, but McCaffrey said the city received wrong instructions about that from the Senate staff.

Eight more copies of the Council resolution were prepared, along with the new home rule form, this time signed by both the mayor and the clerk.

With the state refusing to accept a fax or email and the documents needed in Albany in time for the Legislature session to end Thursday, Ottaviano said he wanted the paperwork transported in a dependable city vehicle, such as a police car.

“I wanted a city vehicle and I wanted to make sure it got there without any question,” Ottaviano said. “Some of the vehicles in our fleet aren’t in such hot shape.”

“Todd Chenez took it,” Police Chief Lawrence M. Eggert confirmed Thursday, referring to the city’s detective lieutenant. “Over the years, we’ve delivered stuff here and there. They’re in such a difficult financial situation, it’s all hands on deck to help keep the city going.”

Last September, City Auditor Ruth E. Ohol was stranded at a New York Conference of Mayors meeting in Lake Placid after a city car broke down. Ottaviano said he didn’t want to risk a repetition of that with the city’s financial health on the line.

“We buy police cars every couple of years,” the attorney noted, meaning they’d be in better shape then the city’s civilian autos.

Eggert said Chenez’s trip took 4½ hours, “which is about the speed limit.”

The chief said the lieutenant won’t charge the city overtime for the emergency mission. Eggert said, “He’s going to flex his hours and take an extra day off. It won’t cost the city anything.”

Ottaviano said, “If it was overtime, I don’t consider it a waste of money.”

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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