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One petition drive ends in West Seneca and another picks up steam

The same group that collected more than 1,200 signatures to force a public referendum on West Seneca's library/community center is halting a second petition drive on the center.

And speaking of petition drives, the group will be starting a petition drive soon for a vote on upsizing the Town Board, and the group's organizer has an online petition calling on the state comptroller to investigate West Seneca's finances.

But unless another group collects signatures asking for a special election on the library/community center borrowing, there will be no referendum on borrowing $1.9 million. If enough valid signatures were collected for  a referendum, one of the town attorney's recommendations was to rescind it and adopt another bond with a five-year payback that is not subject to a referendum.

"It is clear to us that this administration will not permit a vote on this issue and is intent on extracting pain on its taxpayers at any cost," the Committee to Restore Representation in West Seneca said in a statement.

The group had collected enough signatures and was waiting for the Town Board to schedule a public vote on whether the town should borrow $5.1 million. But Monday night the board rescinded the bond resolution to borrow the $5.1 million, and passed a different one to borrow $1.9 million instead.

"It's somewhat disappointing that they knew the will of the people that elected them that wanted a vote," said Daniel Warren, who organized the first petition drive.

He said the board could schedule a referendum voluntarily, and he suggested residents contact board members and tell them they want to vote on the borrowing.

Town Attorney John Fenz recommended the board rescind the larger bond resolution and borrow $1.9 million to finish the center. He also recommended authorizing an inter-fund loan of $1.18 million from the general to the capital fund to cover costs until grants in that amount come in, which the board also did.

West Seneca waiting for answers on library/community center

"This vote was never about should we have a library/community center," Warren said. "This vote was how are we going to pay for it."

Warren has asked the state comptroller to intervene in West Seneca's finances, and he has an online petition with Change.org asking for a state audit. Nearly 400 have signed it.

"None of this makes sense. This is just another reason the state comptroller needs to intervene in our town and tell us what is going on with our finances," he said.

The committee said plans to start collecting signatures "in a few weeks" in favor of a referendum to increase the number of councilmen from two to four, making up a five-member board.

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