School Board Vote
New Superintendent Announced, Budget Reviewed, Board Election
Story by John Thomas
It was a busy ECS Board meeting Tuesday night. High School Principal Bob Miller was announced as the new ECS District Superintendent. In making the disclosure Board Chair, Carl Calarco added the board was “looking forward to working with you in the coming years.” Soon to be retired Superintendent Mark Ward introduced his “18th and final budget presentation.” Finally, the board heard from the two candidates for the open seat on the School Board.
Superintendent Ward walked the board through the 2017-18 school budget. He started by discussing new equipment and classes to benefit students. Equipment included new laptop computers for the 6th grades, new security cameras, and a new Voice Over Internet phone system. Ward discussed two new college level classes in Spanish and Earth Sciences. Students will also benefit from a new elementary teacher, and new hands-on science kits developed by BOCES. The new teacher will allow them to reduce class sizes for the 3rd grade. Mr. Ward also said there would be a proposition on next week’s ballot for leasing two new school busses. A new roof will be installed over the entrance to the elementary building, and a set of steps near the lower northeast corner of the building will be replaced.
Amee Kilby went over some of the specifics of the budget. It includes $4,412,525 for instruction or about 6% of the total budget. Employee benefits total $2,345,378, while operations and maintenance will run $521,159. Instructional Support includes such items as the library, computer technology, health services, and extra-curricular activities. Ms. Kilby pointed out, to keep students and staff safe, more AEDs (Automatic Electronic Defibrillators) and EPPI pens have been placed around the school. The budget for Instructional Support is $788,919, up from $699,477 last year. Central Services includes items like the Superintendent’s office, the business office, printing and mailing, and legal services. Due to some staff changes, this expense went down from $542,638 last year to $503,155 for this year’s budget. Transportation for the schools will rise due to the lease of the two new buses. It is now $648,341 versus last year’s amount of $591,115. In all the school budget for 2017-18 totals $12,319,921 over last year’s $11,903,306. This is up against revenues of $12,351,921 including a tax levy of $7,235,262.
The tax levy includes a total tax rate of 2.96%. This includes an increase of 1.26% allowed by NYS law and an additional 1.7% the board is asking residents to consider. Superintendent Ward pointed out that the 1.26% tax rate would generate only $8,300 in new revenue. During the 2015-16 budget year, the district had to use over $300,000 in reserves to meet expenses. The 1.7% increase will generate roughly $123,000 more. Ward said a home in Ellicottville worth $150,000 at full assessment would see a tax increase of $25.50 per assessed $1,000. He added ECS receives the lowest amount of state aid for education. The increased tax proposal will be up for a vote during the election on May 16th. The proposal must pass by a 60% majority to go through. Anybody with questions may call the school at 699-2368.
The two candidates running for the open board position made brief statements in support of their candidacy. Great Valley resident Len Zlockie is the incumbent on the board. He and his family moved to the school district in 2001. He is running for his second term. His children Luke and Morgan both graduated from ECS. He wants to keep the continuity that has been established while serving on the board, to “keep the ship moving in the right direction,” as he put it. Dr. Erin Cornelius moved to Ellicottville in 2010. She is a licensed psychologist specializing in the assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, and adults. She has two sons, Harrison and Finn. Harrison is currently a student at ECS. She “wants to have a positive impact on the community where my children will grow up.”
Voting is May 16th, from 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM in the Elementary School foyer. The two ballot propositions are the ECS budget and the school bus lease. The two candidates will be on the ballot for the vacant School Board position.
Vogt Reconsiders Plans
Planning Board Prevails on Developer to Scale Down Plans for 23 Washington
Story by John Thomas
Tuesday night the Village Planning Board rolled through several proposals for new businesses in the Village. In an unusual move the board started the meeting in executive session to meet with Daniel Spitzer, an attorney hired by the Village to give counsel on planning and zoning issues.
The first application the Board considered came from Darleen Allen on Rockwell. She is applying to open a home business in her residence. She plans on offering aroma therapy and nutritional counseling. A home business is allowed in a medium density residential area. Ms. Allen is not planning on making any modifications to her home, and will see only one client at a time. Although a one square foot sign is allowed for the business, she said she is not planning one. A public hearing was set for June 13 at 5:30.
Also on Rockwell a resident continued his request to build an accessory apartment at his residence there. The resident has already received approval from the Village ZBA for FAR (Floor Area Ratio) and setback variances. He will add a 24 x 14-foot deck and a stairwell to the front of the home. One stall in his garage is going to be converted to part of the apartment. An architectural review is required for Planning Board approval. The board inquired about the materials for the added roof, siding and rails on the deck. The gentleman said the siding and rails would match the existing home. He said the particular metal roof profile on the existing structure is no longer made, but he would use a style as close a match as possible. A public hearing was set for June 13th at 5:30.
Chris Perks addressed the board with a proposal to build and indoor skateboard park on Park Avenue. The building there is abandoned. Mr. Perks said the business would include some retail areas and possibly some apartments, as well as the board park. Perks said the area is currently zoned industrial and was asking the board to re-zone it commercial. Village Planner said the Village Board would consider the request for rezoning. There arose a question about the current zoning of the area. Mr. Palumbo said since the property had been abandoned for some time it had been rezoned to medium density housing. The Planner also said a lot could be done in an industrial zone without having to rezone the area. The board said it would check on the properties current status. Palumbo said he would outline the steps needed for Perks to pursue his plans with Tom Abritis and Kelly Fredrickson.
Builder Phil Vogt was again before the Board regarding his plans for the former Après Building at 23 Washington. Part of the application involves a use change from retail commercial use to a restaurant, which requires a special use permit. Because the building is in the Historic District overlay the SEQR must be coordinated with the state DOT. Previously the Village Board had named the Planning Board as the lead agency for the coordinated SEQR. In the discussion regarding the next steps Mr. Vogt said he was withdrawing his application to extend the deck over the sidewalk. The plan had been opposed by owners and residents of the adjoining buildings. He also confirmed he plans to install a single restaurant in the building. During the discussion, the “chicken egg” dilemma facing the proposal was brought up. The ZBA will not grant a FAR variance until the Planning Board had signed off on the SEQR, but the Board is hesitant to issue the SEQR until the ZBA rules. Mr. Vogt said he and his engineer Aaron Tiller are willing to work with the ZBA for find out what they are comfortable with.
At this point, Planning Board chair Nancy Rogan said 23 Washington is a “wonderful building,” and the board does not want to see it sitting empty for any longer than necessary. She then asked if Mr. Vogt would reconsider his plans to expand the building. Other members of the board spoke about how much they love and want to protect the historical district. Jack Kramer said Vogt would “be a hero,” if he scale back his remodel plans.