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State questions moving Public Works outside village

The New York State Emergency Management Office is questioning Silver Creek's plans to move the Public Works Department to a warehouse outside the village.

Mayor Kurt Lindstrom talked about the state agency's concerns during a meeting of the Village Board on Monday in the Municipal Building. Village officials hope to close on the property this week.

After the flood of August 2009, the Public Works Department headquarters was condemned and demolished, and the village moved its equipment and offices to the former George Bentges warehouse on Routes 5 and 20, just outside the village limits.

The issue has been debated at many meetings, and the location outside the village has been controversial.

Another site that was being considered is the former Damon Motors dealership on Route 5 in the village. However, board members continue to favor the warehouse.

Randy Jolles, former owner of Damon Motors, attended Monday's meeting and questioned the board's recent actions on the new headquarter during an emergency executive session last Wednesday. Jolles, who read excerpts from the open-meetings law, said he believes that the session was not in accordance with public practice.

Lindstrom disagreed and defended village officials and staffers who have been trying to secure funding for the new headquarters through the state Emergency Management Office and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Village Trustee Thomas Harmon confirmed that he approached State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, earlier Monday to discuss funding for the project.

"The [requested] changes in the project are a direct result of [the Emergency Management Office] not understanding the business," Lindstrom said.

A new motion to both the state and federal agencies about moving to the out-of-village site was drafted and approved Monday. The state also raised concerns about equipment purchases.

Resident Marge Foxton asked about possibly consolidating Public Works Department services with the Town of Hanover.

Deputy Mayor Amy Romanik noted there has been no consolidation study. Lindstrom said the issue has many complications, including the fact that village workers are unionized and town employees are not.

However, Public Works Superintendent Ralph Crawford said he works cooperatively with the town Highway Department on many issues.

In other matters, a preliminary budget is being drafted for the village and appears to project a tax rate decrease of 2 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation. The final budget will be adopted at a future meeting.

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