With less than two weeks left before the takeover, three new North Tonawanda aldermen and a new mayor are indicating new directions they intend to take after their New Year swearing-in.
The three new Republican Council members, Paul P. Reidenouer, Scott P. Kiedrowski and Dennis J. Barberio, and mayor-elect Ronald R. Dawson have been regular observers at Common Council sessions since the November election.
With the exception of Reidenouer, a former First Ward alderman who dropped out of office for a term and is newly elected to represent the Fourth Ward, they have sat silently but intently listening to the lame duck Council.
Reidenouer, an obvious candidate for Council president of the incoming 3-2 Republican Council because of his previous experience, has voiced his opinions in sometimes heated exchanges with the Council and retiring Mayor James A. McGinnis.
Nearing the end of their terms are Alderman Daniel J. Cudzilo, who also is Council president; Alderwoman Mary Lou Pieper of the Third Ward, who did not seek re-election, and Douglas O. Jayne, who was appointed last July to succeed Alderwoman Karen D. Mangel, who resigned.
Re-elected were two Democrats, Leonard J. Wudyka of the Second Ward and Catherine G. Schwandt of the First Ward.
Reidenouer protested last week when the Council, in a special session, voted to extend the city's solid waste disposal contract with Modern Corporations, a landfill at Model City near Lewiston by seven years.
The purpose of the extension is to guarantee the continuance of the current $39.06 per ton disposal rate.
Reidenouer, with support from Democrat Wudyka, asked representatives of American Ref-Fuel of Niagara Falls to come to a Council workshop and bid on a new waste disposal contract.
With the exception of Wudyka, who voted no, the other four members voted for Modern on the recommendation of City Public Works Superintendent Gary J. Franklin.
On the same night, Reidenouer took heated issue with a recommendation by McGinnis for Council approval of an application for federal funds under the so-called COPS (community policing) program to hire and train two new city police officers.
Reidenouer said that the lame duck Council should defer any police department hirings to the new Council because the newcomers want to consider possible departmental reorganization instead of spending more money to hire new officers.
Council President Cudzilo accused Reidenouer and the Republicans of wanting to "play politics" with the police appointments.
As of last week, there had been no call for the current Civil Service eligibility list for police officer, a prerequisite to interviewing for any new positions, City Clerk John W. Wylucki said.
Earlier, Reidenouer, Kiedrowski and Barberio all said they favor the idea of a city golf driving range to augment the profit-making municipal Deerwood Golf Course, but are leery of a complex property tax and lease swap between the North Tonawanda Board of Education and the city to achieve it.
The deal involves an exchange of back-taxes due on property acquired by the school district for a possible 20-year lease on a vacant 19-acre site on Walck Road, owned by the school district.
The current Council approved the swap by a 4-1 vote, with Wudyka opposed.
McGinnis, agreeing with Wudyka, said the proposed agreement left too many "loose ends" and was bad for the city, and vetoed the Council action. An attempt to override the veto failed.
The touchy issue of a bid by city department heads to unionize, apparently will be left to the new Council without any attempt by the current Council to resolve it.
Meanwhile, mayor-elect Dawson raised the issue of possible overpayment to Niagara County of the county share of property taxes on parcels of city-owned property acquired in past tax foreclosure proceedings.
Dawson claims that the properties were county-tax exempt.
Dawson, who as mayor is not a member of the Common Council, said he wants to work with the Council to reduce city taxes. Included, he said should be a review of how Niagara County allocates money to the city and for what purposes.
Dawson also said he will appoint a city commission on charter revision when he assumes office.