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Lockport Council OKs informational mailings on Nov. 3 city treasurer proposition

LOCKPORT – The Common Council has voted to mail postcards to all city households this week, calling voters’ attention to the Nov. 3 proposition on taking away most of the city treasurer’s duties.

The proposition would amend the City Charter to remove most of the treasurer’s powers, except for collecting taxes and signing off on borrowing.

City Treasurer Michael E. White, who is running for re-election, bitterly opposes the measure as an attack on the treasurer’s independence.

State and private-sector auditors have criticized White for failing to prepare timely and accurate financial statements for the Council.

Those duties would be shifted to the appointed finance director, Scott A. Schrader.

The city will pay Micro Graphics $3,050 for 8,000 of the 6-by-9-inch cards. “It’s educational. It’s not advocacy,” Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey said. “The school district does it all the time.”

Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said the proposition is on the back of the paper ballots now used for elections, and election inspectors are not allowed to call voters’ attention to it.

“It’s my position that if you don’t educate the public, very few, if any, will know to turn it over,” Ottaviano said.

“My personal opinion is, I don’t think we should spend the money,” said Alderwoman Anita Mullane, D-2nd Ward. As a former election inspector, she said, “I’m telling you, the first thing they do is flip it over to put it in the machine.”

In other matters at last week’s meeting, McCaffrey presented the Council with proposed water, sewer and refuse budgets for 2016.

She said that there will be no change in refuse or sewer charges but that there will be “a small increase in water only.” She said the amount has not yet been determined because water revenues are still being analyzed.

The Council had already received the general fund budget, which contains a 1.81 percent increase in the property tax levy. The Council scheduled a public hearing on the budget for 6 p.m. Nov. 4 and a budget vote for Nov. 18.

The Council also voted to spend $40,000 on a special antenna so that signals from the new countywide emergency radio system can be received in the basement of City Hall, where the Police Department garage is located. It’s one of the few places in Niagara County where the new radio network doesn’t work.

The Council also agreed to pay Medicare Part B premium reimbursements for five retirees who were not parties to the union lawsuits that the city settled over the issue earlier this year.

McCaffrey said Part B costs about $104 per retiree per month.

Also, the Council purchased a “correlator,” a machine designed to detect leaks in underground pipes, for $18,995 from Matchpoint Inc., of Wilmington, N.C.

McCaffrey also announced that Dennis McNamara will be promoted to chief water-treatment plant operator after Peter S. Degnan retires at the end of this month.